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for Life - Africa - Yam
Yams are carbohydrate rich, staple tuber
vegetables of West African origin. Botanically the tuber
belongs to the Dioscoreaceae family, in the genus, Dioscorea.
Yams are similar in appearance to sweet potatoes. However,
they are not at all related to it.
Some major differences that set them apart from sweet potatoes:
Yams are monocotyledons, larger in size, features thick, rough,
dark brown to pink skin depending upon the cultivar type. Whereas,
sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are dicotyledonous, relatively
smaller in size, and possess thin peel.
Although yams are grown all over the African continent, Nigeria
is the world’s largest producer and exporter, accounting for
over 70 percent of the total global production.
Health benefits of yams:
Yam is a good source of energy; 100 g provides 118 calories. Its
crunchy edible root is chiefly composed of complex carbohydrates
and soluble dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber help reduces constipation, decreases bad (LDL) cholesterol
levels by binding to it in the intestines, and lowers colon cancer
risk by preventing toxic compounds in the food from adhering to
the colon mucosa. Additionally, being a good source of complex carbohydrates,
it regulates a steady rise in blood sugar levels. For the same reason,
yam recommended as a low glycemic index healthy food.
The tuber is an excellent source of the B-complex group of vitamins.
It provides adequate daily requirements of pyridoxine (vitamin B6),
thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin, folates, pantothenic acid, and
niacin. These vitamins mediate various metabolic functions in the
Fresh root also contains good amounts of antioxidant vitamin, vitamin-C;
providing about 29% of recommended levels per 100 g. Vitamin-C plays
some important roles as anti-aging, immune function booster, wound
healing, and bone growth.
Yam contains small amounts of vitamin-A, and ß-carotene levels.
Carotenes convert into vitamin-A inside the body. Both these compounds
are powerful antioxidants. Vitamin-A has many functions like maintaining
healthy mucosa and skin, night vision, growth, and protection from
lung and oral cavity cancers.
Further, the tuber indeed is one of the good sources of minerals
such as copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
100 g provides about 816 mg of Potassium. Potassium is an important
component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate
and blood pressure by countering the hypertensive effects of sodium.
Copper is essential for the production of red blood cells. The body
uses manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide
dismutase. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
Information sourced from www.nutrition-and-you.com