Yams are packed with vitamins and are a good source of Vitamin B6, necessary for immune and nervous system function. Vitamin B6 may reduce risk of heart disease by promoting healthy blood vessels. Even wild yam is promoted to support menopause in women. Yams are long and firm to the touch with a texture and taste that differs from sweet potatoes. Yams contain several beneficial vitamins, as well as minerals, and should not be confused with sweet potatoes.
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Yams are a great source of Vitamin C, in addition to B6. Vitamin C is necessary because it forms the collagen that keeps skin healthy. It also helps with healing by repairing tissues and keeping bones and teeth healthy. There are more than 200 varieties of yams; all provide vitamins and minerals. Yams are long and cylindrical, unlike orange sweet potatoes.
Minerals in Yams
Potassium and manganese are two important minerals found yams. Eating foods with potassium may help keep blood pressure under control and keep bones strong. The body needs potassium for homeostasis in the cells, and for proper nerve and muscle function. Yams are not as high in potassium as some other foods like bananas, raisins, prunes and apricots, an important note if you are potassium deficient and wish to eat potassium-dense foods. They are considered a good, rather than an excellent, source of potassium. Manganese helps the body synthesis other nutrients, keeps the thyroid gland healthy, controls cholesterol levels and promotes nerve function. Manganese is present in many foods.
Yams are high in fiber and are a complex carbohydrate, meaning they make you feel full longer. Manganese also helps with carbohydrate metabolism, providing nutritional synergy.
Yams can be prepared in a variety of ways. Given the nutritional benefits, even individuals with discerning palates can enjoy the earthy flavor of yams.
You may have to find an Asian market to get a true yam--make sure to ask your grocer if you are truly buying a yam. Ask where the yam comes from. Yams are not widely grown in the United States.