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Elephant Yam and Health Benefits

Submitted by Serena Mason on October 25, 2010

What is elephant yam?

The elephant yam can be described as an edible tuber, which is one of the most widely consumed food crops, mainly in the tropical regions. This tuber is called elephant yam because the plant that it is derived from is quite huge and resembles the foot of an elephant to a great extent. Therefore, some of the other synonyms for the elephant yam are elephant foot yam, sweet yam and elephant bread. The highest consumption of the elephant yam is in Africa, followed by some Asian countries such as India. Although in the United States sweet potatoes are often mistaken for the elephant yam, the two are actually quite different, since they belong to two completely different plant families.

On the health and nutrition front, elephant yams are very high in carbs and are also good sources of proteins and certain vitamins. Elephant yam antioxidants make it a nutritious food to eat.

Elephant yam health benefits

There are several elephant yam health benefits that are quite well known.

Given below are some of the most common elephant yam health benefits:

• The trace minerals and key minerals present in elephant yam include copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.
• The fiber content in elephant yam is naturally high and therefore, it is usually considered a slimming food, as it promotes weight loss and reduces the levels of cholesterol in the body. If elephant yam is cooked in the right way, it can be eaten without any fear of weight gain.

Several low fat elephant yam recipes are easily available through online resources as well as recipe books. 
• It has a cooling effect on the body, which is why it is good for people who suffer from hypertension.
• Elephant yams are very high in omega 3 fatty acids; they help reduce the bad cholesterol in the body and increase the good cholesterol instead.
• People who are undergoing treatment for piles are usually advised to eat high amounts of elephant yam.
• The anti-coagulating properties present in yam can prevent the blood from clotting.

• The glycemic index of yams is on the lower side, which is why it is good for people who are suffering from diabetes.
• The consumption of elephant yams is good for women, as it increases the estrogen levels in their body, thereby, helping them to maintain their hormonal balance. Since yams are high in Vitamin B6, it can provide relief from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) too.
• Elephant yams can help reduce irregular bowel movements & cure constipation.

While consumption of moderate amounts of elephant yam should not lead to any side effects, it is always important to check with a doctor, before making it a regular part of a diet. Moreover, people suffering from sinus infections, asthma or chronic colds should avoid eating elephant yam, as it has a cooling effect on the body. Also women who are pregnant or a breast feeding should get an approval from the doctor, before consuming any amount of elephant yam.

Vegetables are high in nutrients, very beneficial for all age groups, and help to maintain a balanced-diet and a healthy lifestyle. They are known for their valuable vitamin, antioxidant, and mineral contents and effectively repair and maintain the body.
The elephant yam is an edible tuber and one of the important staple food crops in the tropics. Africa is one of the major production regions of yams. In India, yams are eaten only as a supplement to cereals.
The main edible species in India (especially South India) is the elephant foot yam. It's called elephant yam not because it's made from actual elephants, but because the plant looks like the foot of an elephant and it's actually quite large.
Each vegetable offers different health benefits and has different culinary uses. Here are some of the health benefits which are derived from eating yams:

  • The elephant yam is widely used in the treatment of patients suffering from piles.
  • The vegetable also suits people with hypertension as it has a cooling effect on the body.
  • Yam is considered to be a healthy low-fat food so it can be consumed without any fear of weight gain.
  • It is a rich source of essential fatty acids (Omega-3 fatty acids) which are known to increase the good cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • It also act as anticoagulant (prevents blood from clotting).
  • Yam offers special health benefits to people with diabetes as it has a very low glycemic index.
  • Eating elephant yam helps in increasing the estrogen levels in women’s bodies, thus helping in maintaining the hormonal balance.
  • Yam is also high in vitamin B6. Consuming vitamin B6 provides relief from pre-menstrual syndrome in women.
  • Yam is known to contain Diosgenin, a hormonal molecule that is currently being experimented for its potential anticancer effects.
  • It is a natural product that is high in fiber . So it can be used as slimming food because it lowers cholesterol levels and promotes weight loss.
  • It is a natural cure for constipation and irregular bowel movements.
  • Yam also has a high concentration of key minerals. It is loaded with potassium, magnesium and phosphorous, as well as with trace minerals like selenium, zinc and copper.
Elephant yams have a unique nutritional profile and offer a number of significant health benefits. This makes the elephant yam a very potent food source when it comes to nutrition. It is also an excellent food source for those who are looking to lose weight. However, the elephant yam is a cooling food and so patients suffering from asthma, sinus infections, or a cold should avoid eating it.
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