Superfoods That Begin with “Y” – Yams
First, let’s get one thing straight: Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing. Both tubers are low on the glycemic index, meaning that they can be consumed without negatively affecting blood sugar levels, making them a great food to eat for sustained energy. On top of that, yams are a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, which are key for things like proper production of serotonin, nervous system function, and wound healing.
What’s in a name? When it comes to the yam, a bit of confusion. The truth is what you’ve been calling a yam is most likely a sweet potato. Even more, it’s possible that you’ve never even tasted a yam!
That sweet, orange-colored root vegetable that you love so dearly is actually a sweet potato. Most people think that long, red-skinned sweet potatoes are yams, but they really are just one of many varieties of sweet potatoes. So where did all of the confusion come from? Let’s break down the main differences between yams and sweet potatoes!
- Yams grow in tropical climates, primarily in South America, Africa and the Caribbean
- Yams have rough skin that is difficult to peel and can even be hairy at times, but it softens when baked
- Yams can grow to be enormous, some grow to be over 7 feet in length!!
- Yams have a higher sugar content than sweet potatoes
- Yams do not contain as much Vitamin A and C as sweet potatoes.
- Yams toxic when eaten raw, but perfectly safe when cooked
- Sweet potato originated in the tropical Americas and was introduced to Europe, Africa, and Asia and is now one of the major root crops in the developing world, where over 90% of the production is found
- Sweet potato skin can range from thin and pale to dark and thick
- Sweet potato skin is thinner and smoother
- Sweet potatoes have an oblong body with tapered ends
- Some sweet potatoes have white flesh which is not as sweet and moist as the darker skinned, orange flesh sweet potatoes
Yams and Sweet Potatoes both:
- Sweet potatoes and yams are considered tuberous roots and both are sweet and delicious
- Yam and sweet potato flesh can sometimes be purple! (Purple Okinawan sweet potato is often confused with the purple yam called ube)
- Both have a very low glycemic index – a special health benefit to diabetics
- The sweet potato and yam are also both loaded with potassium, magnesium and phosphorous
Here’s a fun video were Ellen DeGeneres tries to explain the difference, but gets it wrong.
This guy was labeled as a Nigerian Yam, but he looks like a sweet potato to me. What do you think? Comment below.
Other “Y” Superfoods
By Kathy Casey