Water yam, also regarded as wild yam, is among the oldest food crops we have around. It originated from South-East Asia, Burma and was introduced to Africa far back in the 16th century.
Ever since then, this superfood has grown to become the most common yam species in West Africa and certain parts of the world. The botanical name of water yam is Dioscorea alata. Water yam is widely grown and consumed in Nigeria. It is used to eat stew, egg sauce, vegetable soup and palm oil.
Water yam is packed with a lot of nutrients that can help boost human health by a significant margin. They include; Vitamins C and E, potassium, iron, calcium, copper, phosphorus, carbohydrate, and dietary fibre.
- Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants refer to a set of compounds produced in the body and derived from foods. Part of the things they do in the body is to help shield the cells from damage induced by potentially harmful free radicals.
When there is an excess of free radicals in the body, it may result in a state called oxidative stress, which may cause damage to the DNA as well as some other vital structures in the cells.
Antioxidant-rich foods like water yam contain potent properties, including Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, etc. – all of which are severally proven to be effective in boosting blood antioxidant levels to combat oxidative stress and prevent related diseases.
- Aids diabetes treatment
However, some studies reveal that water yam is capable of improving glucose metabolism stabilizing the rate of digestion, and regulating blood sugar levels, making it an ideal food for people with diabetes.
Another way water yam can be of immense benefit to people with the disease is that it is digested and absorbed by the body in a slow manner and triggers no blood sugar spikes. In addition to that, the yam also contains sugar which adds a natural sweetness to your meals and lowers your thirst for added sugar.
- Lowers blood pressure levels
Water yam is an excellent source of potassium, one of the key minerals for regulating blood pressure.
Since many people rarely eat potassium-rich foods, fruits and vegetables and consume sodium in higher quantity, the potassium content in their body may become extremely low, which pose a great threat to your health.
For instance, when you are deficient in potassium and eat high amounts of sodium, you may eventually develop high blood pressure, or what is called “hypertension.”
Water yam contains a wide number of powerful properties, including Dioscorin. This particular helps to block the angiotensin-converting enzyme, which may further result in increased kidney blood flow and lowered blood pressure.
- Reduces blood cholesterol levels
This is yet another important health benefit of water yam – the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in human blood. They are needed by the body for proper functioning and the formation of healthy cells.
However, having too much cholesterol [hypercholesterolemia] can expose you to a lot of heart-related diseases. The reason is that high cholesterol can trigger the body to start developing fatty deposits in the blood vessels, and as they increase, it may make it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries. This is among the causal factors of heart attack and stroke.
Water yam is packed with fiber and some other potent ingredients, most of which are severally linked with reduced ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels.
- Improves digestive health and prevents certain digestive conditions
Water yam contains a good amount of fibre, one of the key properties that play a significant role in digestive health. The fibre in water yam helps to normalize bowel movements and fuels the colon cells, which in turn aids the flow of the digestive tract for improved digestion and reduced risk of digestion-related conditions.
In addition to the above, it was discovered that people who consume fibre-rich foods have lower rates of constipation as compared with those who ate diets with low fibre content. Are you struggling with loose stools, bloating, or even diarrhoea? Water yam might be an ideal solution for you. The fibre in it helps to relieve digestion-related problems simply by bulking up the stool and retaining more water.
- Promotes excellent vision
Water yam has fair amounts of vitamin E and beta-carotene, both of which play a major role in eye health. In fact, Vitamin E to be precise can help improve vision in myriads of ways. This antioxidant helps to protect eye cells from free radicals and shields them against macular degeneration and cataracts, two of the most common age-related eyesight conditions.
Nwachineke Onyeke Chekwube reporting, Obinwannem news writer / December 10, 2021