While yams appear very similar to sweet potatoes, they’re quite different. In fact, they’re not even related. Yams are grown throughout Africa, but Nigeria is the world’s most prolific producer, exporting to 70% of the world market.
Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are usually longer – sometimes as long as several feet – and not as sweet, having a rough, dark orange or brown surface that looks like tree bark.
They are considered to be a starchy vegetable, yams are made up of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber allowing for slow uptake to keep blood sugar levels even, giving it the nod as a low glycemic index food.
They are a good source of Vitamin A and also a good source of vitamin C – 27% of the daily value for fighting infections such as colds and flu and quick wound healing, anti-aging, strong bones, and healthy immune function. It also provides good amounts of fiber, potassium, manganese, and metabolic B vitamins.
Other nutrients in yams include thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and niacin. Copper (which produces healthy red blood cells), calcium, potassium (supporting optimal cell and body fluids), iron, manganese (a component in the super-potent antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase), and phosphorus are body-beneficial minerals found in yams.