Why are yams good for your gut?
Yams (or the close cousin of the sweet potato) contain a significant concentration of vitamins and minerals! There are upwards of 300 species of yams, but only a few of them are edible. Over two thirds of yams come from Africa, and these plants are grown as an annual crop, but are technically a perennial and grow for the full growing season between frosts.
Yams are often mistaken for sweet potatoes which are found in most grocery stores, but they are not the same as sweet potatoes: yams are rare in most grocery stores, and they are from a different plant family than sweet potatoes. The most common yams imported to the United States and consumed are Garnet Yams, known for their bright orange flesh, as well as Hanah Yams, which contain tan skin and a white-ish/yellowy flesh. Both possess a sweeter flavor.
Yams contain many #goodgut nutrients, which include Vitamin-C, Vitamin-B5, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble), and mannoglucan (CYP-1). They even contain 18% of the daily recommended value of vitamin-C, and 22% and 19% of the daily recommendation for manganese and potassium respectively! 1 cup of cubed yams gives us 6g of fiber! Higher amounts of vitamin-C have been associated with a laxative effect in individuals that may suffer from constipation related disorders (such as IBS-C); B vitamins (such as B5) act as regulators, supporters, and nutrients for a whole host of “good” microbiota in the gut! B-complex vitamins are also associated with promotion of a balanced microbiome and are supportive of gastrointestinal motility. Mannoglucan, a compound found in yams, has been found to be responsible for reducing dysbiosis– AKA microbial imbalance– in the gut!
Besides the wonderful impacts of the vitamins and minerals, recent research isolated a compound called mannoglucan (or CYP-1) from yams, and it was found to reduce dysbiosis and inhibit inflammatory pathways in the gut! Though this research was done on mice, it does provide evidence for humans as well, and future promise to help prevent issues such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Ways to eat it
It is important to peel and cook yams before eating. They are great for boiling!
Serve them with stew, meat, or curry!
Replace potatoes with yams in a dish.
Make them in bulk to grab when on the go and eat as an energy-dense snack or during a workout!
#GoodGut tip: If you have IBS or a sensitive gut, make sure to steam, cook, or microwave before using yams in a recipe.
Recipe: Chickpea Scramble
Ingredients (Makes 4 Servings):
1/2 yam, diced
1/4 red peppers
1 cup broccoli
1/4 cup chickpeas
1 cup spinach
1 Tbsp olive oil
Cut all your ingredients, and sauté in a pan until tender.
Remove and serve warm.
Heal with each meal!
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Bantilan, C. (2019, August 5). 11 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Yams. Healthline.
Farley, J., & Drost, D. (n.d.). Sweet Potatoes in the Garden. Utah State University.
Li, P., Xiao, N., Zeng, L., Xiao, J., Huang, J., Xu, Y., Chen, Y., Ren, Y., & Du, B. (2020).
Structural characteristics of a mannoglucan isolated from Chinese yam and its treatment effects against gut microbiota dysbiosis and DSS-induced colitis in mice. Carbohydrate Polymers, 250, 116958. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.carbpol.2020.116958