Yams are often compared to sweet potatoes, but they are actually not even related. Primarily grown in Nigeria, yams are longer than sweet potatoes and do not taste as sweet. They have a rough, dry skin that looks very similar to tree bark. Yams are actually very difficult to find in American supermarkets, but there are several popular varieties called the Hawaiian yam, Korean yam and the sweet yam.
- Yams are made up of complex carbohydrates and fiber that makes them slow to digest. This means they can help you feel full faster and longer, aiding in weight loss, and providing the body with a good, balanced source of energy.
- The vitamin A contained in yams is good for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin, heightening night vision, supporting healthy bone development and protecting the body against lung and mouth cancers.
- Twenty seven percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C is in one serving of yams. Vitamin C helps support the immune system, quick tissue repair, anti-aging, and building strong bones.
- Yams are a good source of B-vitamins such as B6, B1, riboflavin, folates, pantothenic acid, and niacin. These vitamins are beneficial to healthy metabolic functions of the body.
- Yams also contain potassium. Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering the hypertensive effects of sodium.
- The minerals copper, iron, and manganese in yams helps produce healthy red blood cells, beneficial to supplying oxygen throughout the body.
Tips to eating more yams:
Yams should never be eaten raw, and must be carefully peeled before cooking as they contain naturally-occurring plant toxins. You can boil, bake, fry and roast yams to your preference. Yams can also be used like sweet potatoes in the preparation of cakes, casseroles and breads. In Africa, the popular way to prepare yams is by pounding yams and adding them to boiling water to make a cake-like dough. The dough is then eaten with a sauce, soup or stew.