Yam: fattening? See properties, benefits, recipes

Yam is a tuber from Africa and Asia, but today it is part of the consumption of several countries on many continents. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It presents a wide variety of species.

It can be found with skin and pulp in purple, brown, white and yellow. And, perhaps because of this variety, he suffers from a certain identity crisis. This is because many people confuse him and he was once called cassava, sweet potatoes and yams .

However, its benefits are unmistakable. The yam is good for those on a diet, it is a good reinforcement for the antibodies team and it is also a support in the aesthetics sector. Know how to use it and all its nutrients.


What is yam?

The yam is a tuber of the genus Dioscorea , in the family Dioscoriaceae . It is a very large family of tubers. To give you an idea, there are, within it, 9 genera and more than 800 species.

Of this number, only 14 are used as food and this is where we approach the yam.

It is widely used in Brazilian cuisine, especially in the northeastern region of Brazil. Much is due to the climate, as the best environment to cultivate are the hot and humid regions.

However, its origin comes from far away. The species cultivated in our country came with colonization, from the African and Asian continents.

It is a food that contains several benefits, as it provides many gains for women’s health, helps in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, anemia and vascular diseases.

We owe these and other benefits contained in this tuber to the nutrients it presents.

Much is also due to the presence of a substance called diosgenin , a phytohormone commonly used by the pharmaceutical industry, being a raw material for the production of sex steroids and steroids.

The presence of this substance is beneficial for improving women’s health and relieving pre- and post- menopausal symptoms, to reduce PMS symptoms and breast cancer risk factors .

However, despite the fact that yams are an advantageous tuber, many people confuse it with other foods. There is even a mention of yam in Pero Vaz de Caminha’s letter, but in fact it was manioc. Another food that is confused with yam is sweet potatoes .

This is due to the variety of yam species that exist. It is possible to find them in several types, having their white, yellow and purple pulp. The bark also shows color variations.

Yam Properties

Tubers are essential in our diet and yam is the type of food that should not be ignored, as it is a source of fiber and protein .

It presents significant quantities of vitamins of the B complex as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine , and folic acid . It has minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorus.

Check the nutritional table, considering 100 grams of cooked yam:

Energetic value96.7kcal
Saturated fat0,1g
Polyunsaturated fats0,1g
Dietary fiber1.7g
Soluble fibers0,1g
C vitamin5.6mg
Pyridoxine B60,1mg
Thiamine B10,1mg

Does yam get fat or lose weight?

Yam is a good food for those who want to lose weight and this is related to the fact that it provides greater satiety.

In general, foods that offer large amounts of fiber will make you feel satisfied by eating less. And the yam makes this benefit possible. Each serving of 100 grams of cooked yam brings, on average, 4 to 5 grams of fiber.

Another characteristic that makes yam a good food for those who want to lose weight is the fact that it has a low glycemic index. That way, eating it will not cause sugar spikes in your blood, avoiding one of the symptoms that impairs the diet: increased appetite.

In addition, yams are a healthier and more nutritious source of carbohydrates , providing lasting energy.

However, to achieve these returns on consumption of yams, do not overdo the accompaniments. Also avoid preparing it with butter and oils that increase its caloric value.

There are also some people who prefer to consume it as juice as well. However, in this way, a lot of fiber is lost, which reduces the benefit of satiety. Although it is not the best way to get all the nutrients from yam, it is a healthier drink alternative.

It is a simple recipe to make on a daily basis and requires, among the ingredients, 1 cup of yam (raw, without peels and chopped), 1 piece of ginger , orange juice, 500 ml of water and honey. Just beat the ingredients in a blender and sweeten with honey.

It is worth mentioning that, despite all the benefits, yam is a food with calories that are converted into energy. In excess, it can certainly cause the person to gain weight and not the other way around. In addition to a poor diet, it also does not provide any miracles.

Main benefits of yam

Yams have several benefits related to their consumption and, among them, some stand out, such as the advantages it provides to women’s health and the prevention of some diseases.

However, there are divergences between doctors’ opinions. Some of these professionals argue that just consuming the food would not be enough to obtain the benefits attributed to it.

In such cases, it would be necessary to use supplements with yam extract to obtain these nutrients in greater concentration.

Following this premise, just adding yams to the diet will not be miraculous. But don’t be pessimistic, yam is a very rich food when in a healthy diet.

It is worth remembering that, in the face of any disease, the patient should see a doctor. Yam is not a substitute for treatment, but it can be used as a prevention.

So, find out how to use this tuber for your health:

Helps control cholesterol

Many foods help control cholesterol and yams are one of them. If you have problems with high cholesterol, see a doctor and have this tuber in your diet, as it helps to balance LDL, the bad cholesterol.

It is good for hair

Not everyone is like Peter Pan, who is so afraid of aging, but if you have this dread, know that taking care of your food is possible until you postpone the appearance of white hairs that dare to appear ahead of time.

It is common for some people that they start to emerge when they are young. In many cases, this is a genetic issue and there is not much that can be done to reverse it.

However, the good news is that it can be a deficiency of nutrients and eating good amounts of vitamin B6 can prevent this from happening.

This vitamin is responsible for the production of melanin in our body, which also interferes with the color of our hair.

In addition, the yam helps in the blood circulation of the hair scalp, an action stimulated by the amount of iron present in this food.

Iron is essential for red blood cells to be able to transport oxygen throughout our bodies properly. Good blood circulation is a consequence that this job is being done well.

Still on the health of the hair leather, it is advantageous to consume this tuber because the lack of iron can cause baldness, both in men and women.

Helps prevent anemia

Although the amount of iron present in yams is not so high when compared to foods such as beans and quinoa , it is a good source of this nutrient so important to prevent anemia.

Yams also contain vitamin C, which helps in the absorption of iron by our body, and copper, which facilitates access to the iron stored in our body.

Iron is essential because it is related to the production of red blood cells, responsible for the transport of oxygen throughout our body.

Anemia caused by iron deficiency is the most common, which is why it is so important to have it in your diet.

Therefore, consuming this tuber together with other iron-rich foods can be a way to avoid this condition.

It’s good for the bones

Yam is good for bone health as it is a source of potassium. This nutrient helps to fight acids that remove calcium from the bones or prevent it from fixing.

Without a good amount of calcium, our bones end up suffering greater wear and tear and become fragile. Thus, diseases such as osteoporosis can occur.

Contributes to the proper functioning of the intestine

For people who suffer from stuck intestines, yams may be an option to regulate it.

A low fiber diet can be the cause of intestinal problems such as constipation. In this case, the yam can contribute to everything working well, as it contains significant amounts of this nutrient.

Prevents cardiovascular disease

By helping to control bad cholesterol, yam also helps to reduce cardiovascular disease as it helps to control blood pressure.

We owe this benefit to the fact that yams contain potassium and vitamin C, two properties that help to reduce this pressure, since they allow the dilation of blood vessels to occur. This improves blood circulation.

In short: it is very good for the heart.

Reduces symptoms of PMS and menopause

Yam contributes to women’s health by helping to reduce the symptoms of PMS and menopause. This is because yam is rich in diosgenin , a plant hormone (phytohormone).

Diosgenin helps to regulate a woman’s hormones, providing a balance between those responsible for causing the so unwanted symptoms of PMS and menopause.

Going through the premenstrual period and menopause without feeling mood swings, headaches, swelling in the legs, weight gain and many other symptoms is much easier.

Increases fertility

For those who are looking for a pregnancy and want a force of nature for this, the yam is a good option.

Yam tea is seen as a great natural stimulus for increasing female fertility. This is due to diosgenin, a substance very present in this tuber, which can contribute to ovulation.

If you are trying to conceive, first consult a doctor and talk to him about the possibility of using the tea. The monitoring of a specialized professional is essential.

However, if having a child is not in your plans, there is no need to avoid food. If you have safe sex, using contraception properly, yams should not be a risk. Anyway, keep a routine of visits to the gynecologist and clarify all your doubts.

Strengthens the immune system

Due to the presence of vitamin C and zinc, yam has as one of the main benefits to strengthen the immunity of our organism.

When we eat foods rich in these nutrients, we make our bodies stronger and prepared for certain diseases, such as colds and flu, for example.

Helps in cancer prevention

Whenever we hear about ways to prevent cancer , our attention turns to the topic. So pay attention once again to the benefits of yam.

This tuber has antioxidant compounds, such as vitamin C and beta-carotene. They help prevent various types of cancer, as they protect our bodies against the actions of free radicals.

Free radicals are agents that can cause DNA mutations and thus trigger cell proliferation. And when that happens, it is not good, as our body may be susceptible to the development of some cancer.

In addition, the yam contains the substance diosgenin. Some studies focused on its actions have shown that it is able to slow the development of breast cancer cells, since it can stimulate p53, a pro-protein protein.

Diosgenin is also capable of stimulating osteosarcoma cells, as it stimulates the program dead cell, thus interrupting the cell cycle.

There is also in the yam the presence of phytosterol, which stimulates apoptosis in leukemic cells and also cells responsible for the development of colon cancer.

Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease, but there are studies that aim to find effective ways of preventing and making these patients’ lives more comfortable. As always, in food, it is possible to explore ways to delay the symptoms of some diseases.

In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, what happens is an inflammation in the brain. This can happen due to the accumulation of the amino acid homocysteine, which is very harmful to our health.

In order to face this amino acid, it is necessary that our body has good levels of the hormone DHEA. As we get older, the amount of this hormone decreases, so we need to replace it.

Therefore, in these cases, the yam can be preventive. In addition to being a source of vitamins B6 and B9, it contains diosgenin, a substance that can be converted to DHEA in our body.

Beneficial for eye health

Yam consumption contributes to eye health as it is a source of vitamin C and vitamin A.

Vitamin C, in addition to strengthening the immune system, helps to reduce the chances of macular degeneration occurring. This means that you are less likely to develop any involvement of the macula, a small area of ​​the retina.

When the macula suffers an injury or the very degenerative action of aging, the vision becomes more blurred, as if there is a dark spot covering the retina and preventing vision.

In addition to these benefits, vitamin C helps fight free radicals and prevents many other eye diseases. Meanwhile, vitamin A, also present in this tuber, decreases the chances of infections.

Prevents skin problems

Consuming yams can help to have beautiful, wrinkle-free and rejuvenated skin. Also to prevent skin diseases such as ulcers and boils.

Because it contains allantoin, a cell that helps in the healing process, yam can contribute to accelerate the treatment of skin diseases.

It also has antioxidant properties that help fight free radicals, which damage cell health. Thus, it can eliminate damage that the skin can suffer, such as spots, fine lines and wrinkles.

It also has vitamin C, which helps to restore damaged cells and contributes to the production of collagen. In this way, the skin becomes firmer and younger.

It is possible to use the yam as a paste mask , applying directly to the face. The indicated is to leave half an hour, to obtain the aesthetic benefits. You can also do an exfoliation to remove the deadest and deepest dirt cells from the face.

For dark circles, there is the option of leaving slices of yam on the eyes.

Does yam work as a dengue prevention?

In the face of epidemics, much research is emerging regarding prevention, cure and treatment. Many myths also emerge at these times. Even more when it comes to dengue , a health problem that scares many people.

Yams and their role in preventing dengue have been discussed. It is not conclusive that the yam, in fact, has action in the prevention.

What is known is that this tuber contains vitamins of the B complex, which give off a smell that the mosquito that transmits the disease is not attracted and, therefore, tends not to bite the person with the odor.

This is debatable by many professionals. They claim that the yam does not have a high enough concentration to cause this effect.

Therefore, trying to repel mosquitoes by believing only in the power of yam is very dangerous. Undoubtedly, having it in the diet will bring many benefits, but in relation to dengue, other measures must be taken.

Make sure that there are no places in your house accumulating standing water and, in the face of symptoms, see a doctor.

When to avoid

There are no risk groups regarding the consumption of yams. Food should be avoided only by people who are allergic to this tuber. To find out if you are allergic or not, see a doctor and ask this question.

In general, yams are beneficial for all people. However, as it interferes with female hormones, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid ingesting it, especially without medical advice.

It should also not be consumed in excess, as it can cause discomfort such as stomach pains and, despite offering benefits for various health conditions, such as cholesterol control and vascular diseases, it is not a substitute for medical monitoring and the treatment prescribed by him.

Are yams and yams the same thing?

Yams and yams are not the same. Although they are similar, there are certain differences.

Both are tubers and, in the yam family, there is the yam. The yam belongs to the family Dioscoreaceae . It is a very large family, with nine genera and about 850 species. Yams and yams are like cousins.

To avoid taking yams instead of getting lost in the supermarket’s tubers, pay attention to the physical characteristics of these two. The yam is round and hairy, the yam has no hair and is usually larger than this relative.

Can yams be eaten raw?

Yams can be eaten raw. However, in this way, it can cause some burning on the lips, mouth and hands of some people, due to the presence of oxalic acid.

This substance, also present in foods such as beets, watercress and spinach, is not toxic in small amounts, but some people may be sensitive to it.

This sensitivity can vary from mild to intense. Cooking yams will not eliminate all oxalic acid, but it does help to reduce the sensitivity caused by the substance.

To recognize the level of sensitivity you have towards this substance, it is necessary to observe whether there is a burning or itchy sensation when consuming foods such as yams, beets, chard, watercress and others, still raw.

It is also not recommended to consume these raw foods by people who suffer from kidney stones, as this acid prevents the absorption of calcium.

This way, calcium is free in the urinary tract and can form the terrible kidney stones.

There are some studies that discuss the presence of oxalic acid and how this substance is supposed to be a health risk, since it can mean a low absorption of nutrients present in food.

It is not possible to say whether this really happens, because each organism responds differently. In addition, each individual has a medical and food history to be analyzed separately.

What is known is that the consumption of raw yams by healthy people and with a good diet should not cause any health problems.

However, in case of suspected sensitivity to the substance, seek medical attention to investigate the problem.

How to prepare

Now that you know all the benefits of this food, here are some recipe tips for preparing yams.

Gnocchi with yam

For fans of Italian food, there is a version for the traditional gnocchi (or gnocchi) that takes yam to prepare the pasta.


  • 250 g of yam;
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil;
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt;
  • ½ teaspoon of rice flour;

For the sauce

  • ½ packet of parsley;
  • 1 bunch of basil;
  • ½ cup (tea) of nuts;
  • 1 clove of garlic;
  • ⅓ cup (tea) of olive oil;
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

To make the dough, first, take the whole yams to the oven at 200ºC. I drill a few holes with a fork and bake for an hour.

After roasting for an hour, wait for it to cool down a bit – so as not to burn your hands – and peel them. In a container, place the yams, salt and oil and knead well.

Try it, to test the amount of salt and gradually adjust if you need to. Divide the dough into small portions, make strips on a smooth, floured surface and cut into cubes. Here we already have something like gnocchi. Do you recognize?

In a pan with hot water, salt and a drizzle of olive oil, add the gnocchi cubes and remove when they emerge.

The sauce consists of joining the ingredients in a processor, so that they are well crushed. The oil should be added little by little, until it becomes a paste. Now, with pasta and sauce ready, just serve.

Yam dumplings

After cooking, mash the yams with onion, green onions and leeks. These ingredients should be finely chopped, so it will be easier to form the dumplings.

Add cumin, salt and other spices of your choice. To combine, use potato starch. After mixing the ingredients well, shape the dough to form the dumplings.

To finish, in a pan, brush with egg yolk and bake until the top of the cookies is dry.

Yam sauté

Peel the yams and cook, but not too much to the point of breaking up or becoming too soft. Then cut into pieces or slices and place them in a frying pan with oil already heated. Keep stirring so that it is golden and does not burn.

Add salt and, if you want to make it more spicy, add finely chopped green leaves like parsley, chives, basil , oregano and coriander. To make it crispy, leave it for a longer time, over low heat.

Yam soup with miso

Use yam in the preparation of soups and enjoy the benefits of this tuber in a warm, tasty, nutritious and good meal for those on a diet.

This recipe is great for those busy and tiring days, when a soup at dinner goes very well. Because, yes, soup is dinner.

The version of this yam soup also includes miso, a very common ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is used as a seasoning and will give the soup a fuller appearance.

In addition to adding flavor, miso is also detoxifying, contains proteins and vitamin B12. Knowing this, it’s time to prepare.

It’s very simple, cook the yams (without peel) with two bay leaves and whole garlic cloves. Use an amount of water equivalent to the amount of yam.

Once cooked, beat in a blender to make it a fine cream. Add approximately one teaspoon of miso for each person. This spice is usually found in paste.

Another option is to dissolve the miso in water in a separate bowl. That way, people can serve themselves according to personal taste. If you prefer, add the chopped chives ready soup.

Yam Vitamin

Recipes with yams are not restricted to only savory dishes, it is also used for sweet and vitamin recipes.

In this vitamin you will need 1 yam (without peel), 1 carrot, 2 orange juice, filtered water and sprigs of parsley.

Peel the carrot and the yam and chop into pieces. In a blender, place all the ingredients and blend until smooth. It is not necessary to strain. If you think the vitamin has become too pasty, add more water and you’re ready.

Read more: Yam juice: how to make it?

Yam Danoninho

This is one of the sweet recipe options in which it is possible to include yam, making it a good healthy snack option for children.


  • 300 grams of yam, cooked only with water;
  • 1 box of strawberry;
  • 1 cup of apple juice, natural or industrialized.

After cooking the yam, pour out the used water and set it aside. In a saucepan, boil the strawberries together with the apple juice. This will make the strawberries still sweet.

With the strawberries and yams cooked, just beat these ingredients in a blender. If necessary, add a little water.

Place the danoninho in small containers and take it to the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then just serve. It is also possible to vary this recipe using other fruits of your choice.

How to store

Yams should be stored at room temperature, in low light and well ventilated. Leaving yams exposed to the sun can cause them to sprout or ferment. Under these conditions, they will remain fresh for up to ten days.

The best way to store yams is to loosen them. In other words, you don’t have to keep it inside the plastic you brought it from the supermarket with.

They should also not be kept in the refrigerator. Only when cooked and not for a long time, as the food’s validity, after being prepared, should not exceed 2 to 4 days. When in doubt, cook enough for the meal, avoiding leftovers.

There are plenty of reasons for everyone to consider yam, from now on, an essential item on the shopping list at the fair or supermarket. However, for women, this tuber is even more special.

Taking care of food is fundamental, but it becomes even better when the benefits involve reducing the symptoms of PMS, menopause and even the prevention of breast cancer.

Share this text with your friends and family and help people not to confuse yams with sweet potatoes, yams or cassava.