Yam Facts: Nutrition, Health Benefits, And Side Effects Explained

Prasenjit Das
Oct 31, 2022 By Prasenjit Das
Originally Published on Mar 13, 2022
Edited by Sarah Nyamekye
Who doesn't like to eat a sweet yam, right? But how much do you know about the food? Here are some yam facts that every yam lover must know.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 4.9 Min

Move over sweet potatoes, it's time to give yams (baked, mashed, or roasted) some love!

Yams have been around for millennia and are believed to have originated in Asia and Africa. Till today, West Africa is the largest producer of this tuber in the world.

It is possible that the name is derived from the Canarian word 'ñame' or the Portuguese word 'inhama'; both of these means 'to eat'. Oftentimes, yams are confused with sweet potatoes, and even though both of them are tubers, they are actually different from each other.

There are also some theories that say that the longer, redder, and sweeter varieties, mainly the Japanese ones, are yams, while the rounder and the paler ones are sweet potatoes. However, this is not an effective way to differential one from the other.

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about yams, from their nutritional content to their potential health benefits and side effects. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about yams!

Yam Health Benefits

Yams are a great source of many vitamins and minerals. Yams contain high amounts of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and manganese. Let's see what makes yam one of the most important vegetables for our health.

Yam is considered to be the vegetable with the highest sources of energy and carbohydrates. It is true that 3.5 oz (100 g) of yam contains about 118 calories, and its root is filled with dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates.

In addition to that, yam tubers can reduce cholesterol levels and can decrease the risk of colon cancer. It also has the ability to treat constipation.

Studies have also shown that yam can treat respiratory problems, cure skin diseases, improve digestion, increase the body's capacity of absorbing nutrients, improve red blood cell counts, and enhance cognitive functions of the mind.

Yam Side Effects

Yams are a healthy tuber, but like with all foods, there can be some side effects associated with their consumption. Let us now see some facts related to the harmful nature of yam.

It is said that you can face problems like vomiting, nausea, digestive issues, and headaches if you take yam in large quantities. Also, its root can turn out to be harmful to people with conditions such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or any other kind of cancer.

Yam is absolutely not recommended to individuals with protein S deficiency. It is also deemed to be unsafe during pregnancy.

Did you know yams can have different skin colors like yellow, purple, and white? Keep reading to learn more interesting things about yams.

Nutritional Value Of Yam facts

Enough of the side effects; let us now get back to its positive side and see what exactly yam tubers contain that improves our health.

First of all, yam is a great source of B vitamins; it contains a good amount of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B9 vitamins.

Apart from them it also consists of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Studies show that 3.5 oz (100 g) of yam can give you 29% of the recommended level of vitamin C.

Talking about minerals, yams are filled with loads of iron, soluble dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese. So much so that you can receive 0.028 oz (816 mg) of potassium in only 3.5 oz (100 g) of yam. This piece of information just made your next plate of mashed or baked yam even more delicious, right?

Difference Between Yam, Potato, And Cassava

Yams, potatoes, and cassavas are all edible tubers, but they are not all the same. Yams are a type of tuber, much similar to sweet potato, while potatoes are a different tuber altogether. Cassavas are related to yams and potatoes but have their own unique properties.

Yams are native to southeast Asia and Africa; they can vary in size from a few inches to several feet. They are known for having a cylindrical shape, reddish flesh, and different colors of skin (yellow, white, and purple).

On the other hand, even though the potato is a tuber, it belongs to a completely separate botanical family. To be precise, potatoes are more related to tomatoes and peppers than yams.

Cassava, however, is a native plant of South America. Both in appearance and content, it is different from yams and potatoes. Cassava contains large quantities of calories (way more than yams) and has dark-brown skin. Though like yams, cassava also possesses various vitamins and minerals, it is different from the other tubers.


Who invented yam?

It is believed that the cultivation of true yams started as early as 8000 BC in Africa and southeast Aasia.

Where do yams grow?

Yams grow in almost all the warm regions on Earth, including Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Oceania.

Are yams good for you?

Absolutely! This edible tuber is filled with various nutrients and helps us deal with many ailments.

Where do yams come from?

True yams are believed to have originated in Asia and Africa, but now they are cultivated in almost all the warm regions in the world (though West Africa produces 95% of all the yams in the globe).

Is yam fattening?

Yams are low in calories and sugar and have a good amount of fiber; that is why it is said yams can actually help in weight loss.

Are yams poisonous?

No, they are not. But taking the root in large quantities can lead to nausea and vomiting.

How many varieties of yam do we have?

Around the world, there are about 600 species of yams available. Among them, some of the most popular species are water yam (Southeast Asia), mountain yam (Japan), and Chinese yam (also known as a cinnamon vine).

How did yams get their name?

It is believed that the plant got its name from either the Canarian word 'ñame' or the Portuguese word 'inhama'.

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Written by Prasenjit Das

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature, Master of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

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Prasenjit DasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature, Master of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Having obtained a Bachelor's degree in English language and literature from West Bengal State University - Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College, followed by a Master's degree in English language and literature from Calcutta University, Prasenjit has several years of experience as a content writer, Prasenjit has mastered the art of producing cohesive and coherent copy. To further refine his skills and continuously challenge his creativity, Prasenjit successfully completed the "Introduction to Creative Writing Course" offered by British Council. Outside of his professional pursuits, Prasenjit finds inspiration in engaging in various creative activities, including writing poetry.

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