Benefits of Yam

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yamsBenefits of Yam

A vegetable that is commonly available throughout the year, yams are available in 200 varieties. This long and cylindrical shaped vegetable has a rough and scaly exterior but is creamy or firm when cooked. In many countries orange-colored sweet potatoes are often confused for yams. Yams have been long used in traditional herbal medications and are believed to have several health benefits. Let us look at some major benefits.

1. Rich source of nutrients:

Yams are rich in potassium, fiber, manganese, and carbohydrates. They are also a good source of B vitamins, especially, B1 and B6; and also vitamin C. It also contains a unique phytoestrogen, also referred to as disogenin, which is used in the synthesis of estrogen and progesterone used by pharmaceutical companies. Yams also contain folic acid.

2. Reduces inflammation:

Wild yam is believed to possess anti-inflammatory properties and can alleviate the agony of rheumatoid arthritis and other similar conditions. Consumption of yam normalizes the production of the natural steroidal hormone, adrenal cortex, which provides anti-stress and anti-inflammation and leads to joint and structure integrity in general, which explains its anti-rheumatic properties.

3. Aids digestion:

Yams have been used in traditional herbal medicine as a medication for colic, such as bilious colic and colic with spasmodic contractions, flatulence, and irritable bowel syndrome, yellow skin, conjunctiva, paroxysmal abdomen pain, and other related stomach problems. Often referred to as ‘colic root’, yams are antispasmodic and help relieve cramps in intestines. In herbal medicine it is also used for the treatment of diverticulitis and dysmenorrhea.

4. Reduces blood sugar:

The dioscoretine in yams are believed to reduce blood sugar levels. Further, the carbohydrates and fiber in yam are broken down slowly, reducing the rate at which these sugars are released into the blood stream.

5. Regulates weight and metabolism:

Yams are rich in fiber and quite filling, thereby reducing the quantity consumed. Also it is a good source of manganese, which aids carbohydrate metabolism and contributes towards production of energy and anti-oxidant defense. Its anti-spasmodic properties relieve intestinal cramps and ensure smooth bowel movement.

6. Reduces homocysteine levels:

Yams are a rich source of vitamin B6, which is necessary to break down homocysteine. This substance damages the walls of blood vessels and is responsible for heart attacks and stroke even in people with low cholesterol levels. Vitamin B6 also lowers the risk of heart disease.

7. Controls hypertension:

Potassium is a mineral that helps reduce hypertension and yams are a rich source of this mineral. Yams also contain a storage protein called dioscorin that help some people with hypertension. This protein can inhibit angiotensin converting enzyme that increases blood flow to the kidney and reduces blood pressure.

8. Women’s health:

Yam extracts have long been used as an alternative hormone replacement for women during menopause. Vitamin B6 supplements have been used to ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and yams are a rich source of this vitamin. The antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties help alleviate uterine and ovarian pain and cramps caused during menstruation. Yams were also one of the original sources of chemicals for the manufacture of contraceptive hormone. In traditional herbal medication it is also used for breast enhancement, as a sexual stimulant, and to treat infertility.

In addition to the benefits listed above, yams are also believed to be a rich source of anti-oxidants, and help increase good cholesterol, and enhance virility. Thus, this simple vegetable that is also available commonly can be a rich source of essential nutrients that can keep you healthy, especially if you are a woman.

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