Yam is a staple food all across West Africa, the Caribbean and some of the Latin American countries. This powerful source of carbohydrate has been confused with potatoes in the Western world. They are different!

Yam is usually paired with stew or prefered vegetable sauce, fried or boiled eggs or slices of peppers and avocado.
Try one of the recipes on africanfoods.co.uk for your next dinner.

It is known in the botanical sphere as Dioscorea spp. There are basically two groups cultivated at the moment. The sweet type, called Dioscorrea esculenta like "white yam and puna. The other group is the wild species which is known for its anti-aging property as well as potential for providing natural progesterone...used as pills for contraception, and in fertility promotion and believed to be useful in bringing about multiple twin conception.

Generally, there are over 200 subspecies Known.

Yam is a 10cm to 70cm long tuberous rhizome, which could be anything from 5cm to 10 cm wide, with a brownish bark-like covering or skin, enveloping a white to yellow succulent pulp rich in complex starch with a uniquely satisfying taste and texture.

It is not the same as sweet potatoes or any form of potato. No. They are not related in any way! It is an underground tuber like potatoes, but much bigger and has an unbeatable excellent unique taste. You just have to try a dish of yam and you will see the difference.

Yam tuber

This tuber is very popular in sub-Saharan Africa and it is a major staple. Average daily consumption per capital is highest in Bénin (364 kcal), Côte d‘Ivoire (342 kcal), Ghana (296 kcal), and Nigeria (258 kcal).In this current climate of food shortage and rising demand for starchy grains, it is a true alternative to rice, both in the versatility of use, dietary composition and ease of growth.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2005, estimated 48.7 million tonnes of yam were produced worldwide, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 97 per cent of this figure.

It is found mainly in the countries of Nigeria accounting for 95%) of world production, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, and Cote d'Ivoire.

It is called "ishue" amongst the Yoruba speaking people of Nigeria, or "Orusoon" by the itsekiris.

Nutritional Value Of Yam

This is one of the world’s healthiest food. It is highly rich nutritionally and protects the body from many troubles.

This root tuber is low in glycemic index, check this this article why this is important. It is rich in fibers, dietary fibers making up about 21%. This is good for the bowel, as it makes food move well down the gut. This reduces the chance of developing illnesses like diverticulitis, bowel cancers or chronic constipation.

It is also very rich is vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for health gum, skin, bones, teeth, and normal growth.

Another substance well known to be present in it is potassium. Potassium is a type of salt that help protects the heart. Potassium helps in reducing high blood pressure too. It is also important for the normal function of the nerves and muscles.

Magnesium is still another essential mineral in yam. This helps in so many enzyme system in the body, and help in the proper metabolism of carbohydrates.

Of all the important components of this vegetable, vitamin B6 is perhaps the most protective. This vitamin helps the body to handle a toxic substance in the blood called homocysteine. Lack of vitamin B6 would lead to homocysteine accumulating in the blood, and this leads to damage to the wall of our blood vessels and heart.

Potentially, this could cause a heart attack. In fact, people with normal cholesterol who have heart attack have been shown to have high levels of homocysteine. Eat this source of vitamin B6 today to help reduce your chances of having a heart attack.

The chemical discoretine found in this vegetable has been shown to both reduce blood sugar levels as well as help in increasing blood flow through the kidney, leading to excretion of excess salt and also reducing blood pressure.

What about the calorie? It is very rich in carbohydrate. The type of starch found in it, makes it an excellent type of carbohydrate both for maintaining good health and avoiding over weight. Because of the high fibers content of this starchy root, you easily feel filled up without having to eat so much.

Is also rich in protein and phosphorous.

No kidding. This tuber is a great vegetable for food.

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