Yes, Yams are Paleo!
Aren’t and Yams and Sweet Potatoes the Same?
Due to incorrect labelling, yams are often mistaken to sweet potatoes. In the United States, sweet potatoes are often marketed as yams when in fact they come from two different family tubers and are not related in any way.
Yam is a tuber that comes from the genus Dioscorea white sweet potato comes from the Convulaceae family. Its name was derived from the Spanish word “name” which means “to sample”. It is native and widely cultivated in Africa, Asia and other tropical regions. Yam, like potato is a starchy tuber which skin is greyish and rough and has white flesh. It is quite larger and longer than sweet potato. Sometimes it can be really huge.
While sweet potatoes are sweet and have smooth flesh, yams in contrast have starchier flesh and not as sweet as the sweet potatoes.
Similar to sweet potatoes, yams come in many varieties. Some yams have purple or reddish flesh. Yams compared to sweet potatoes are somewhat bland and dry and often served with spicy sauces in popular dishes.
Types of Yams
There are three common types of yams and they are as follows:
- African Yam or White Yam – This yam is also known as the true yam. It has over 200 varieties.
- Purple Yam – Purple yam was originally grown n the South East Asia. As the name describes it, purple yams have purple flesh.
- Chinese Yam or Japanese Mountain Yam – Chinese yams were cultivated in China, Japan and Korea. This type of yam should be cooked before it becomes edible. Chinese people used it as herbal medicine too to treat liver and kidney diseases.
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Yams
Yams’ nutritional content is similar to sweet potatoes. They are rich in vitamins A, B, and C, and minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus and potassium. Potassium is important in controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Yams are excellent source of B-complex vitamins that provide sufficient daily requirements of Vitamins B6, B1, riboflavin, folates, pantothenic acid and niacin that performs metabolic functions in the body.
The beta carotene in yams are being converted to vitamin A which helps in providing healthy mucus membrane, good eyesight and healthy skin
Although yams are starchy, they are also high in fiber which is helpful in slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates and prevents a spike in blood sugar. The fiber found in yams provides resistant starch, a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Like sweet potatoes, yams’ glycemic index is lower than that of the regular white potato.
Summing It Up…
Yams are Paleo! They have been in existence for hundreds of years ago and surely have been consumed during the Paleolithic era. Yams provide an excellent nutritional content that can be beneficial to one’s health.
Healthy people can eat yams freely and for those with metabolic conditions, if cannot be avoided, eat in moderation.
What Experts Say About Yams
“Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (starches like sweet potato, yam, yucca, etc.)” – Chris Kresser
“If, for whatever reason, you need some extra carbs “yams and sweet potatoes” is the answer.” – Mark Sisson
Other Names for Yam
Tropical yam, nyami
All you ever wanted to know about Yams and Paleo
A Visual Guide to Yams and Sweet Potatoes (plus How They Fit Into a Primal Eating Plan)
The Paleo Diet. Roots and Tubers in Perspective
Original Eating. Yams
Paleolista. Is it a Yam or a Sweet Potato?
Hunt Gather Love. Yam Confusion: A WHOLE NEW WORLD
Eat Drink Paleo. What is a yam and how to cook with it?
Paleo Porn. Are Yams Paleo?
The Hufftington Post. What’s The Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?
Did we miss anything?
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photo credit: Yams