You must be aware how starchy yam can be. It’s a food high in carbohydrate and you might be thinking it is not good enough for weight loss or healthy eating.
I have been questioned in regard to this in an article where I express a few points about yam and I have received critics via email as well like, “how possible can you regard yam as weight loss food considering it highly rich carbohydrates food?”
Well, before I dig further into answers and my sincere points, let me remind you and refresh your memory about yam.
Yam is a root tuber crop, cylindrical in shape and usually long in size.
It is characterized by rough surfaces which are the most distinguish factor compared sweet potatoes because some people get confuse in that aspect and it usually has brown to light pink skin color.
When you carefully peel it skin, you will be left with the whitish part which is what you eat. It could be boiled, fried or roasted. Whatever preparation you choose, you have to make sure it’s the healthiest.
Yam is popularly believed to have originated from Africa, especially West-Africa because before the adventurers and colonial masters took their first step on the West-Africa soil, this is one of the crops predominantly grown by our Forefathers and it was a symbol of wealth.
It’s now well cultivated in Asia, Latin America, Caribbean, and Oceania.
There are over 200 varieties of yam with many species.
They include the white yam which is the most predominant yam species in Nigeria.
There is yellow yam, winged yam, and purple yam is famous with the Asians and water yam which is relatively grown in Africa.
What can Make Yam a Weight Loss Food?
Yam is highly made up of complex carbohydrates.
It composes of 95% carbohydrate, 4% of proteins, 1% of fat and what can really make yam a weight loss food is its glycemic index.
When you eat food rich in carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, pasta, boiled yellow plantain: this signal the body to produce more insulin from your pancreas where these carbohydrates foods will further be converted into pure glucose also known as blood sugar.
Some people eat unhealthy perhaps out of laziness to fry and this is one of the most contributory factors to unhealthy eating which has become a habit for some which afterward start resulting health issues and complications
The major source of energy our body uses is glucose but there are some foods that, when you eat or drink them like those fizzy drinks you like drinking every day or guys that like adding 3 to 4 cubes to a 250ml cup of tea, an old colleague of mine should tag it on 1 finger because intuitively, he uses 1 finger to pick the sugar cubes.
The result of all these is that it increases the blood sugar level which your body already has and by adding more, it sporadically increases it beyond what you need and what your body system capacity can handle.
When this happens, the insulin will have to work and even overwork to the extent that it will break down and shut down: it will just stop working (insulin resistance) and this is the glycemic effect of some food or drinks you indulge every day.
It indicates how fast glucose can be digested and absorb in your body when you eat a particular type of food which kick off resistance in insulin.
The break down will lead to converting that excess blood sugar into fat and it keeps accumulating them (unhealthy weight gain) till you grow fat.
Other consequences of excess blood sugar in the bloodstream are the type 2 diabetes, kidney diseases, some types of cancer, heart diseases, gall bladder and other health problems.
This should the more reason why you should always be checking your blood sugar level at the general hospital.
Imagine a situation what you eat and drink slowly releases insulin hormones, and this hormone does it job without much or no stress that it could lead to overwork to the extent of shutting itself down.
Such a better and healthy process is the slow digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and there are certain foods that work like that, and one of such is a yam. These types of foods have low to medium rate of glycemic effects which keeps your blood sugar balance which is a healthy state.
According to a Harvard publication, 150 grams of yam has 54 glycemic index score which falls within the low glycemic index bracket, making it food that slowly digests and absorbs carbohydrates.
A cup of cooked, boiled or baked yam has 158 calories which make it a food relatively low in calorie, the right choice for breakfast or lunch when your body metabolism will still be active to use the energy.
You can eat it with vegetable sauce which is enriched in nutrients than fried egg.
Serving: 1 person
Yam plus Vegetable Stew (Efo riro)
1 cup* of yam (cut into bite sizes) or 2 slices of yam with 1-inch width
Pinch of salt to taste
*Cup size: 250ml
1. Rinse the yam, place them in a cooking pot, add water, onto the cooking burner and allow boiling for about 2 to 3 minutes.
2. During the boiling time, add the salt.
3. To check if soft, insert the yam with a fork.
Vegetable Stew (Efo Riro)
2 cups spinach (Chopped)
2 red bell peppers (Chopped)
½ medium Onion (Chopped)
1/5 cup olive oil or coconut oil
2 big tomatoes (Chopped)
1 clove of Garlic (Chopped) optional
15 Shrimps (cooked)
1 kg goat meat
3 medium snails (minced) optional
1 tablespoon dry crayfish powder
½ tablespoon basil
3 chicken cubes or your favorite Maggi cube
1 tablespoon powdered pepper to taste
Little salt to taste
1. Add your goat meat, snail and seasonings of your choice in a pot and boil until tender. Keep it aside.
2. Add peppers, tomatoes, onions and garlic in a blender with little water and blend till it produces the coarse mixture.
3. Heat the olive oil in a pot till hot; add the blended pepper mix and cover. Simmer it for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
4. Add your Maggi cubes, basil, pepper powder, crayfish powder, and salt to taste. When satisfied with the taste, add the cooked lamb, snails, and shrimps.
5. Simmer it for about 10 minutes, and then add the chopped spinach and stir. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Let it simmer again for about 10 minutes.
6. Serve while hot with the boiled yam or pounded yam. 2 to 3 ladle of the vegetable stew is alright.
Apply portion control when eating to lose weight. Don’t eat much and if you follow the recipe as your guide, you will get the right quantity.
Can You eat Pounded Yam While Working to Lose Weight?
I got this question from an email subscriber and my thought to that is, you can eat pounded yam but to fall into the temptation of over eating.
Like the recipe above, 1 cup of cooked yam or 2 slices as specified will be fine to pound or make a fist of hand and cut your pounded yam to that size. Add more vegetable soup like 2 to 3 ladles. That’s better for weight loss.
Health Benefits of Yam
Apart from weight loss, yam has tremendous health benefits and that’s what makes it good for weight loss and healthy eating. They are:
1. Despite the high carbohydrates yam has more than potatoes, the glycemic index of yam is much lower compared to sweet potatoes. That means potatoes releases more blood sugar compared to yam. According to SFGate, 150 gram of sweet potato has a glycemic index score of 70 while yam has 54, making yam much more healthful weight loss.
In fact, a score of 70 is considered high glycemic index but when you consume the sweet potatoes in smaller quantity in addition to other food ingredients, it could have minimal effect on your blood sugar level.
2. Yam is rich in potassium; a mineral for help with fluid balance, muscle function, cardiac and nerve impulse function.
3. Yam is rich in vitamin A which helps with healthy mucous membranes and skin, night vision, healthy bone, and providing protection from lung and mouth cancers.
4. Yam is a great source of vitamin C which prevents infections such as colds and flu and it helps wound heals quickly.
5. Yam has vitamin B6 which helps with neurotransmitters: the process of transporting signals from one nerve cell to another. In addition, it controls and reduces the effects of homocysteine: a condition associated with heart diseases and stroke.
6. Yam is rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene which are strong antioxidants for the body.
Nigeria is the largest producer and exporter of yam with over 38 million tons. Other producers are Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Togo, Papua New Guinea and Colombia.
With these abundant health benefits, there is no doubt why some cultures especially in Nigeria and Ghana, celebrate yam right from historical times as an annual festival of great harvest and wealth.
Image credit: HopeforNigeriaonline, farmersalmanac, thebfitteam, Dooneys Kitchen, 123rf, Obaladesuya