What are the Health Benefits of Water yam? Water yam is botanically known as Dioscorea alata. It is the third most important tuber crop in Africa after cassava and sweet potato. It is one of the oldest food crops and it originated in Burma in Southeast Asia before it spread all over the world.
It is a mucilaginous food, hence, not that popular in cooking like other yams. They are highly nutritious, full of fibers and antioxidants, and they have other health benefits for the body which we will be discussing in this article.
Water yam is used by the Ijebu people of the Yoruba tribe to make Ikokore(water yam porridge) and Ojojo(fried water yam balls). It is used by the Igbo people to make Mbogiri. The name the Yorubas call water yam is Isu Ewura.
Health and Nutrition Benefits of Water yam (Dioscorea alata)
Water yam is rich in phosphorus, copper, iron, calcium, vitamin C and E, carbohydrates, potassium, sodium, manganese, and dietary fiber.
100gm of water yam will give:
Energy: 140 Kilocalories
Moisture content: 65 g
Carbohydrates: 31 g
Protein: 2 g
Fats: 0 g
Dietary fiber: 3 g
Vitamin C: 8 milligrams (mg)
B-carotene: 10 mg
Vitamin B1: 0.1 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.04 mg
Calcium: 28 mg
Phosphorus: 28 mg
Magnesium: 10 mg
Health benefits of water yam
1. Lowers blood sugar levels
Water yam contains fiber which slows down the absorption of food from the gastrointestinal tract. This prevents sugar spikes and allows the carbohydrates to be slowly released into the body system.
Water yam improves glucose metabolism, balances the rate of digestion, and regulates blood sugar levels. These make it an ideal food for diabetics.
Antioxidants are substances in the body, and that are also derived from foods, that help to fight free radicals which cause harm and chronic diseases to the body.
Excessive free radicals in the body result in oxidative stress. Water yam contains antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress and promote a healthy body system.
3. Good source of progesterone
Water yam is a good source of the female hormone progesterone, hence it helps in hormonal imbalance and regulation of the menstrual cycle making it one of the healthful foods that will help you Conceive Twins.
4. Low in calories
Water yam is low in calories, hence, it is an ideal food to add to a weight loss regimen. A person can gain weight by consuming more calories than he or she burns, hence, consuming low-calorie foods like water and yam can help with weight loss.
5. Prevents constipation
Another health benefit of water yam is that it prevents constipation. Water yam contains fiber which helps regulate the gastrointestinal tract and also allows for easy bowel movements. When the amount of fiber you eat increases, the amount of stool you pass also increases.
It is recommended that women get at Least 25gms of fiber in their daily meals, whereas men are meant to get 38gms of fiber in their daily meals. The fiber allows more water into stools, making it softer, larger, and easier to pass through the intestines.
6. Lowers blood pressure
Water yam is a huge source of potassium, which is the main mineral that regulates blood pressure. Increasing the intake of potassium can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, by lowering blood pressure.
Consuming too little potassium can raise one’s blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
7. Blood cholesterol
The water yam lowers blood cholesterol levels. It lowers the LDL (bad) cholesterol that causes atherosclerosis. Water yam contains fibers that bind cholesterol and its precursors in the gastrointestinal tract and drag them out of the body before they get into blood circulation. Too much cholesterol in the body is dangerous.
It may start allowing the deposition of fatty deposits inside the blood vessels which does not allow blood to flow well. This puts one at risk of stroke and heart attack.
More so, hypercholesterolemia(the situation of excessive cholesterol in the body) usually has no symptoms and can only be detected through a blood test. Hence, it is important to eat foods that lower cholesterol regularly, such as water and yam.
8. Enhances vision
Another benefit of water yam is that it is excellent for good vision. It contains beta-carotene and vitamin E which are good for good vision. They protect the eyes from free radicals that can cause macular degeneration and cataracts.
9. Immune system
Water yam contains anti-aging properties and also boosts the immune system. Water yam contains vitamin C and other essential minerals that help to boost the immune system. The immune system is an extensive network of cells and proteins which primarily defends the body against infections and harmful radicals.
They protect against diseases and attack free and harmful radicals, preventing them from developing chronic diseases in the body. Free radicals are highly volatile and unstable molecules that are either produced in the body naturally as a byproduct of normal metabolism, or by exposure to toxins in the environment such as cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light.
Free radicals have a lifespan of only a fraction of a second, but during that time can damage DNA, sometimes resulting in alterations that can lead to various diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
The immune system fights pathogens like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, and removes them from the body. It also recognizes and neutralizes harmful substances in the body and fights disease-causing changes in the body, for instance, cancer cells.
Other health benefits of water yam include:
- Promotes fast healing
- Improves bone health
- Relieves menopausal symptoms
- Reduces inflammation
- Boosts fertility.
- How to prepare Ikokore( Water yam porridge )
There are different methods of preparing Ikokore, and we will be discussing one of these methods:
- Half Tuber Water yam
- 2 Cooking spoons of Palm Oil
- 3 Cups Chicken or Beef Stock/ Water
- 1 Tatashe or 3 Tablespoons dried, ground pepper
- 1-2 Scotch Bonnet (AtaRodo)
- 1-2 Smoked Fish or Shawa/ Bonga fish is cut into bits
- 1-2 Pieces of Dried Fish (Panla) Shredded
- 2 Cups Shredded cooked Meats (optional)
- 3 Tablespoons Crayfish
- 1/2 Cup Smoked Prawns
- 1 Teaspoon Ogiri Ijebu (Fermented Locust Beans)
- 2 of your preferred bullion cubes
- Salt to taste
1. Slice the water yam into small pieces
2. peel the yams and grate them
3. Add salt and crayfish to the grated yam, then set aside
4. Blend the Shombo/Tatashe and Scotch Bonnet till smooth and set aside.
5. Place a medium-sized pot on medium heat
6. When it is hot, add palm oil, then locust beans, and after some minutes, add the blended Pepper, then the billion Cubes, and Salt to taste. When using Stockfish, do not add salt as it’s already seasoned
7. Leave to fry until oil floats to the top. This should take 10 minutes, stir every now and then to prevent burning
8. Now, add the Chicken /Beef Stock if you’re using any, if you haven’t got Stock, just add water, and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
9. Add the Shredded Cooked Meats, Fish and Smoked Prawns, and any other proteins you are using, then add the Ogiri, and leave for 10 minutes
10. After 10 minutes, remove all the meat and fish from the stew, leaving just the stew in the pots
11. Turn the heat down to low, then scoop the grated yam into the stew in big and small lumps. The small lumps will dissolve to form a mushy sauce, while the big lumps will remain to form a lumpy constituency. Do not stir. Allow boiling for 10 minutes on low heat
12. Transfer the cooked meats and fish back into the pot, add the rest of the crayfish, and combine gently
13. Leave to simmer for 3 – 5 minutes and it’s ready to be served.
Water yam is a highly nutritious food that should be added to one’s diet. Ensure you eat a balanced diet and you combine the classes of food well so as to maintain a healthy body.