Yams are not only an excellent source of fiber but also high in potassium and manganese, which are important for supporting bone health, growth, metabolism, and heart function (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
These tubers also provide decent amounts of other micronutrients, such as copper and vitamin C.
In one 30-day study, 24 postmenopausal women switched from their staple food of rice to eating yams in 2 out of 3 meals (390 grams total) per day. Their blood levels of estrone and estradiol increased by 26% and 27%, respectively (11Trusted Source).
In an animal study, a yam-rich diet significantly reduced colon tumor growth. These effects were associated with the antioxidants present in yams, suggesting that these tubers may protect against cancer (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
What’s more, a test-tube study found that extracts from Chinese yam, specifically the peel, inhibited liver tumor growth and offered properties (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
However, research is limited, and studies have yet to test these effects in humans.
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that the antioxidants in yams may have anticancer effects. Still, human studies are lacking.
5. May Reduce Inflammation
The antioxidants in yams may help reduce inflammation.
Still, more studies are needed to determine whether eating yams has the same anti-inflammatory effects in humans.
The rich antioxidant content of yams helps reduce inflammation related to various diseases. However, more human research is needed to confirm these results.
6. May Improve Blood Sugar Control
Yams may improve your blood sugar levels.
In one study, rats given yam powder or yam water extract experienced decreased fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, compared with the control groups. HbA1c is a measure of long-term blood sugar control (27Trusted Source).
Another study found that rats given higher amounts of purple yam extract showed reduced appetites, greater weight loss, and improved blood sugar control, compared with a control group (28).
Furthermore, another study in rats found that supplementing with yam flour reduced the rate of blood sugar absorption, which led to improved blood sugar control. These effects are attributed to the resistant starch and fiber in yams (29).
Resistant starch passes through your gut undigested. This type of starch is linked to various health benefits, including decreased appetite, as well as improved blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity (30Trusted Source).
Several animal studies have found that yams improve blood sugar control. The effects are thought to be due to their rich resistant starch and dietary fiber contents.
7–10. Other Potential Benefits
Yams are associated with a number of other health benefits, including:
8. Weight loss. One animal study found that yam extract reduced food intake, suggesting that these tubers may help reduce appetite and improve weight loss. The fiber in yams may promote weight loss as well (28).
9. Antimicrobial effects. Though the exact mechanism is unknown, several studies observe that yam extract may protect against certain drug-resistant bacteria (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
10. Improved cholesterol levels. In one study, women who ate 18 ounces (390 grams) of yams per day for 30 days experienced a 6% decrease in blood cholesterol levels (11Trusted Source).
Though yams’ rich nutritional content appears to provide numerous benefits, more human research is needed to study these effects in detail.
Due to the nutrient density of yams, eating them is associated with a number of health benefits, including weight loss, antimicrobial effects, and improved digestive health and cholesterol levels.
11. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Due to their versatility, it’s easy to add yams to your diet. They can be bought whole or as a powder, flour, and even supplement.
These delicious tubers can be baked, boiled, steamed, roasted, fried, and pan-cooked.
Yams can be enjoyed with or without the skin and used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Here are some common ways to enjoy yams:
Yam fries. Cut yams into wedges, add seasonings, and bake or fry them.
Purée. Boil the tubers until soft, place in a blender, purée, and season them.
Yam chips. Thinly slice peeled yams and bake or fry them.
Baked yams. Bake cubed yams until tender.
Cheesy yam gratin. Thinly slice peeled yams and bake them with cheese and seasonings.
Yam hash. Peel, dice, season, and then cook your yams in a pan.
Add into baked goods. Use yam purée to add moisture to breads and muffins.
Adding different seasonings to your yam dishes, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, or thyme, can diversify sweet and savory dishes.
Yams are nutritious, versatile, and easy to prepare, making them a great ingredient to cook with.
The Bottom Line
Yams are nutrient-dense tuber vegetables that come in many colors.
They’re a great source of fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and antioxidants.
Yams are linked to various health benefits and may boost brain health, reduce inflammation, and improve blood sugar control.
They’re versatile, easy to prepare, and a great vegetable to include in your diet in both sweet and savory dishes.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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