Health benefits of eating yams

Yams can be bought in a number of forms, including whole, powder or flour and as a supplement. Stock PHOTO

Yams are a good source of vitamin C which is vital in fighting infections such as colds and flu and quick wound healing.

It is also help in anti-aging, strong bones, and healthy immune function. It also provides good amounts of fibre, potassium, manganese, and metabolic B vitamins.

Healthy nervous system
Yams are rich in group B vitamins which are good at improving the nervous system health, says Dr Paul Kasenene a nutritionist at Wellcare Centre.
The vitamins have the ability to enhance memory and learning capacity in humans.

Folate found in yams has been found to help in reducing cognitive decline and foetal brain development for pregnant women.

He says, “The potassium mineral in the yams also helps increase blood flow to the brain and improves concentration, cognitive abilities and neural activity. The antioxidants also guard the brain by fighting free radicals thus protecting brain cells from damage.”

For diabetics
Although they are majorly considered to be a starchy vegetable, yams are made up of carbohydrates and dietary fiber allowing a slow uptake to keep blood sugar levels. Also having a good supply of Vitamin B6 in the body is believed to reduce the risk of developing heart diseases.

Dr Kasenene says, “Yam is listed as a low glycemic index food for people with diabetes because it is slowly digested without causing any unnecessary fluctuations in the blood sugar levels.”

Good for eye sight
Yams are rich in minerals needed to sustain a healthy life. These include vitamin A, C, B, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. Minerals such as calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron and phosphorus can also be found in yams.

The vitamin A contained in the yam is converted into beta-carotene which helps in the maintaining of healthy mucous membranes in the eyes which improves night vision and treats age related vision loss. It also supports healthy bone development, and provides protection from lung and mouth cancers.

Good antioxidants
Vitamin C and other antioxidants help in getting rid of free radicals that can damage your DNA cells that can cause serious health conditions such as cancer and heart diseases.

“Vitamin stimulates the production of collagen that improves the elasticity of the skin, regenerates damaged skin and makes it elastic, smooth and supple. It therefore helps in maintaining a youthful appearance and delays the occurrence of wrinkles,” says Dr Kasenene.

The high fiber content in yams is very beneficial for digestive health. It adds bulk to the stool and ensures smooth and regular bowel movements. This roughage is very helpful in preventing various digestive disorders like constipation, indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome.

Endocrine system
Yam is very useful for menopausal women as it contains an enzyme that provides a natural alternative to hormonal replacement in women who have reached menopause. It also contains Vitamin B6 which is helpful in the treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome triggered by depression.

Yams are mainly composed of complex carbohydrates and soluble fibre. It is an excellent source of B complex vitamins like Vitamin C, B6, B1, riboflavin, folic acid, pantothenic acid and niacin. It also contains a good amount of antioxidants such as betacarotene. It is a rich source of minerals like copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.