YAMS - The Best Excuse Yet to Carb-Load

yams for beauty coup de coiff

Today in the Kitchen we are talking all things yams! Why yams? Well, because they happen to be one of the most consumed foods in the world. It is a staple in the diets of people from South America, Africa, West Indies, and the Pacific Islands. They have been cultivated since 50,000 BC in parts of Africa and Asia! [5] Also we happen to be obsessed with them ourselves because of their nutritional value, they are easy to prepare and add to any meal, and of course they are incredibly tasty.

Now “yam” is a rather broadly used term. In the United States and Canada, “yam” is sometimes used to refer to varieties of the unrelated sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas). That is not what we are referring to here. There are far too many categories of yams to discuss now, but, the ones that are cultivated the most (i.e. for profit on a global scale) are:

  • Dioscorea rotundata, the white yam, and D. cayenensis, the yellow yam, are native to Africa. [11]

  • D. alata, called "white yam", winged yam, water yam, and purple yam (not to be confused with the Okinawan purple "yam", which is a sweet potato), was first cultivated in Southeast Asia. [10]

  • D. polystachya, Chinese yam, is native to China. [11]

  • D. bulbifera, the air potato, is found in both Africa and Asia, with slight differences between those found in each place. [11]

  • D. esculenta, was one of the first yam species cultivated and it is native to Southeast Asia. [11]

  • D. dumetorum, the bitter yam, is popular as a vegetable in parts of West Africa. [11]

  • D. trifida, the cush-cush yam, is native to the Guyana region of South America. [11]

 Nutritional Facts

  • Lower glycemic index, about 54% of glucose per 150 gram serving, than other potato products. [1]

  • Moderate nutrient content including: potassium, vitamin B6 (relieve PMS-associated depression), manganese, thiamin, dietary fiber (makes you feel full), and vitamin C (fight infections/improve immune function). [2, 4, 6]

  • Its low protein content does not make it a very good source of amino acids. [3]

Skin Benefits

  • Beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and antioxidants help to prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging [7]

  • Stimulates the production of collagen and improves skin elasticity and texture. [7]

Hair Benefits

  • Vitamin A promotes cell growth and helps protect and produce oil in the scalp. [8]

  • Iron helps red bloods cells carry oxygen and promotes blood circulation in the scalp; maintaining the health of the scalp. Iron deficiency can lead to hair loss and/or baldness. [9]

DIY Anti-Ageing Skincare Mask

Ingredients: 2 tsp cooked pureed yam of your choice (use food processor or blender), ½ tsp honey, 1 tsp plain greek yogurt (fat free for oily skin, 2% for dry skin).

  • Optional: You can add a dash of vitamin C powder to boost the antioxidant effects

  • Substitutions: If you don’t want to use yogurt or don’t usually have it on hand you can use 1 tbsp of half & half, rice milk, coconut milk, or almond milk (unsweetened)

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth and apply to clean, damp skin. Leave on for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with a clean washcloth and follow up with moisturizer. Use once a week and make a new batch for each use.

If you do not have yams or prefer sweet potatoes, you can also use the cooked sweet potato for this recipe.



1. "Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods". Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. 2008.

2. Uwaegbute, Osho and Obatolu (1998). Postharvest technology and commodity marketing: Proceedings of a postharvest conference. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. p. 172. ISBN 978-978-131-111-6.

3. "Undernutrition". The Merck Manual: The Home Health Handbook. 2010.


5. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-yam-for-skin-hair-and-health/#gref

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11428178

7. Binic I, Lazarevic V, Ljubenovic M, Mojsa J, Sokolovic D. Skin ageing: natural weapons and strategies. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:827248. doi:10.1155/2013/827248

8. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-yam-for-skin-hair-and-health/#gref


10. "Dioscorea alata (white yam)". Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI). 2017.

11. Kay, D.E. (1987). "Root Crops". London, UK: Tropical Development and Research Institute.