yam is the tuber of Dioscorea alata also called wild yam is one of the
oldest food crops so far. It originated in South-East Asia in Burm, from
where it spreads to other parts of the globe.
It was first
introduced to West African countries by the Portuguese and Spanish in
the 16th century. Today, water yam is the most widely distributed of all
the yams, being grown in all parts of the tropics.
is different from most other yams because it is mucilaginous and so, it
is not as popular for cooking. It is used by Yoruba people to make
delicacies like ikokore (water yam porridge) and ojojo (fried grated
water yam balls).
Water yam can be eaten boiled, mashed, fried, or
mixed with palm oil or groundnut oil and steamed. Flour can also be
made from it. Dishes such as ‘Isikolo’, Pounded yam, pottage, and
fritters can also be made from it.
It can also be cooked with
beans. Dishes such as Queen Cakes, Biscuits and pastries can be prepared
from water yam flour. It is the main staple food in Ijebu area –
Ikokore (water yam porridge) Photo Credit: Debby SignatureNutritional Value Of Water Yam:
= 70%, Starch = 28%, Sugar = 0.5%, Fat = 0.1% – 0.3%, Crude protein =
1.1% – 2.8%, Crude fibre = 0.6 – 1.4%, Ash = 0.7% – 2.1%, Vitamin C (mg
per 100g) = 5 – 8%, Vitamin B1 (mg per 100g) = 0.09%, Vitamin B2 (mg per
100g) = 0.03% and Vitamin A.
Aside from eating Dioscorea alata
because of its nutritional values, it has also been consumed for more
than 2000 years medicinal purposes as it has been proven to treat
different systemic diseases including hypertension a condition which may
lead to stroke, heart failure, and heart palpitation.
yams are digested and absorbed slowly by the body and so do not cause
blood sugar spikes. This makes them useful for adding to the diet of
Ojojo (fried grated water yam balls). Photo Credit: Food and LensSome other benefits of consuming water yams are:
- Lowering effect on blood cholesterol levels.
- Decreases blood pressure levels.
- It is a good source of the female hormone, progesterone, thus, it
helps to balance female hormones and are good for hormonal imbalance
disorders and regulation of menses.
- They improve digestive health and help with constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
- The antioxidants in water yams help to reduce damage by free
radicals in the body and slow down the effects of aging. They also have
anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce the risk of chronic
In folk medicine, water yam has been used as a laxative and worm
expeller, and as a treatment for fever, gonorrhoea, leprosy, tumours,
and inflamed haemorrhoids.
lot of Nigerians do not know about water yams but it should be noted
that including water yams in your diet can help to boost fiber and
beneficial nutrients because they are eaten without processing methods
which can remove most of these important nutrients. They are also useful
to those who are looking for healthy food items to add to their diet.