is yam good for diabetes
Nutrition

Yam(Rataalo) Good Or Bad For Diabetes

Yam is a root vegetable that mainly grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions and is grown as a cash crop for its popularity and demand. It is not quite known in many places but is native to and a commonly eaten vegetable in South and Southeast Asia and Africa. Let us read more about is yam good for diabetes in this article.

The table given below is the nutrition value of yam per 100 grams.

Vitamins Value
Folates 23 µg
Niacin 0.552 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.314 mg
Pyridoxine 0.293 mg
Riboflavin 0.032 mg
Thiamin 0.112 mg
Vitamin C 17.1 mg
Vitamin A 138 IU
Vitamin E 0.35 mg
Vitamin K 2.3 µg
Calcium 17 mg
Copper 0.178 mg
Iron 0.54 mg
Magnesium 21 mg
Manganese 0.397 mg
Phosphorus 55mg
Selenium 0.7 µg
Zinc 0.24 mg
Energy 108 Kcal
Carbohydrates 27.88 g
Protein 1.53 g
Total Fat 0.17 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Dietary Fibre 4.1 g

Benefits of Yam

It would be surprising for many to know that because of its high nutrient levels, it does not only have a low GI but is also helpful in weight management and in controlling cholesterol levels. Varieties of yam grow in different places according to the slight difference in climatic conditions. 

One of the most common varieties, the elephant foot yam, is good for diabetes as it ranks low in GI, and is packed with loads of nutrition. This specific variety is also used for medicinal purposes to treat physical ailments like piles, tumours, inflammation, rheumatism, and several others. As it is loaded with several vitamins and trace minerals, it is beneficial for everyone and aids in weight loss, improving bone health, improving immunity, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Benefits of Yam for Diabetes

Let us get into detail to answer the commonly asked question, "Is white yam good for diabetes?” As it is a starchy vegetable, many believe it raises blood sugar levels and causes hyperglycemia. However, it is a misconception as it ranks low in the glycemic index and can be consumed by people with diabetes without any concern. Here are some ways in which yam is beneficial for people with diabetes:

Yam contains loads of vitamins and minerals like manganese, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, etc., that keep our organs healthy, especially the pancreas and liver, which work together to maintain normal blood sugar levels

  • Yams are rich in fibre that helps control glucose levels in the blood. 
  • As it ranks low on the glycemic index, it is suitable for people with diabetes. 
  • The soluble fibre content in yam, which is 10 percent of the daily requirement, helps keep you full for longer, which aids in weight loss.
  • Drinking yam juice concentrate constantly for weeks has been shown to lower blood sugar levels drastically. 
  • Yam contains 0% cholesterol and 3 grams of fibre per 100 grams that help maintain low cholesterol levels. 
  • People with diabetes tend to have chronic inflammation because yams are beneficial for them and have strong anti-inflammatory properties. 
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The Glycemic Index of Yam

If you have diabetes, you may doubt ‘is yam good for diabetes,’ or ‘can it be included in your regular diabetes-friendly diet.’ A quick look at Yam’s GI can give you the required answers. For the uninitiated, GI measures how particular food items influence blood sugar (glucose) levels. GI of 55 and lower is considered low GI, 56 to 69 is considered medium, and 70 and beyond is considered high.

The lower the GI, the better is the food for people with diabetes. Generally, yam has a GI of 51, but how it is cooked can hugely impact the GI levels. So if you decide to boil, bake, roast, or fry Yam, the GI will differ for different cases. To learn more about it, read along.

  • GI of Boiled Yam

Boiling yam can alter the vegetable’s chemical structure, preventing blood sugar spikes. When you boil yam, its starch content becomes easily digestible by your body enzymes. It also retains more resistant starch during the boiling process, acting as fiber with a lower effect on blood sugar levels. Boiled yam has a low to medium GI value. The higher you boil the yam, the lower its GI will be. For example, the GI of yam boiled for 8 and 30 minutes is 61 and 46, respectively.

  • GI of Baked Yam

Baked yam has a comparatively higher GI than boiled, roasted, and fried yam. If you peel and bake a yam for 45 minutes, it will have a GI of 94, making it a high-GI food item similar to white rice, mashed potatoes, baguettes, etc.

  • GI of Roasted Yam

Roasting or baking yam destroys the resistant starch composition, leading to significantly higher GI. If you peel and roast a yam, it will have a GI of 82, which is too high. You can find similar GI in items like instant oat porridge, cakes, etc.

  • GI of Fried Yam

Surprisingly, the Yam glycemic index doesn’t become as high as it happens when roasting and baking the vegetable. When you fry a yam, its fat will slow sugar absorption in the bloodstream and delay emptying the stomach. Peeling and frying yam in vegetable oil can give it a GI of 76. This GI range puts fried yam at par with waffles, cake, doughnuts, and other high-GI food items.

So the next time you doubt ‘does yam increase blood sugar,’ first decide the cooking method you will employ to cook yam, and then check the GI levels discussed above.   

Does Yam Increase Blood Sugar?

People with diabetes must be extra cautious while adding any new item to their diabetes-friendly diet list. If you are considering having yams, you may have questions like, ‘are yams high in sugar,’ ‘do yams affect blood sugar levels,’ and more such questions. Well, the answer lies in your cooking method. As discussed above, the GI of yam will vary depending on the cooking method. The lower the GI, the less it affects your blood sugar levels. So boiled yam rarely increases your blood sugar level, but baked or roasted yam can spike your glucose levels. But you can regulate the degree of influence by restricting your consumption levels.

Nutritional Value of Elephant Foot Yam

Yam is a highly nutritious vegetable that can provide the nutrients essential for proper body functioning. It has a good amount of copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, and plenty of other essential minerals. You can learn more about elephant foot yam nutrition by checking the table below.

Nutritional Value of Yam (Per 100 Grams of Serving)
Carbohydrates 25 grams
Protein 9.81 gram
Calcium 20 mg
Zinc 2 mg
Fat 1.5 gram
Potassium 1208 mg
Iron 1.8 mg
Sodium 14.2 mg
Dietary Fiber 5.7 grams
Copper 0.3 mg
Magnesium 82 mg
Calories 118 calories

Is Elephant Yam Good for Diabetes?

Yes, elephant foot yam good for diabetes. This vegetable has low carbohydrate and high fiber levels, making it an ideal food option for people with diabetes. It also contains anti-diabetic properties, so you can expect it to assist you with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. However, you should consume it at moderate levels since excess of any food can influence your blood sugar levels. You can limit your yam consumption to a maximum of 80 grams a day.  

Health Benefits of Yam for Diabetes

When consumed in moderation, you can enjoy numerous yam benefits. Some of the top health benefits of including yam in your diabetes-friendly diet are listed below:

  • Nutrition-Rich Profile Helps in Proper Body Functioning

If you check yam’s nutritional profile, you will notice it is high in fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, Vitamin C, and plenty of other essential nutrients that help your body function properly. For example, the copper in yam can accelerate your red blood cell production process and boost iron absorption. At the same time, the Vitamin C in yam acts as a potent antioxidant that boosts your immune system.

  • May Improve Brain Function

Although more studies are needed to better understand the positive impacts of yams on brain function, the studies conducted on mice have shown promising results. Yams are rich in diosgenin, a unique compound that promotes neuron growth and improves brain function. This compound is also known for enhancing memory and learning abilities.

  • Yams may Have Cancer-Fighting Properties

This vegetable has a profile high in antioxidants, many of which have anticancer properties. Researchers have conducted multiple test-tube and animal studies to establish clearer benefits of yam’s anticancer properties, and they all support this claim. However, more human studies are needed to strengthen this claim further.

  • Lowers Inflammation

The antioxidants present in yam make it helpful in lowering inflammation levels. If inflammation is not treated early, it may become chronic, leading to obesity, diabetes, cardiac problems, and more health problems. Having yam regularly in limited quantities can prevent the development of such chronic conditions.

  • Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels

Yam contains high omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in reducing bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. It even has a low amount of fat (between 0.2 to 0.4%) and high fiber levels (between 1.7% to 5%), making it the perfect food item for people trying to lose weight.

  • Eases Menopause Signs

During menopause, the blood levels of estrogen hormones (Estradiol and Estrone) drastically reduce. It is believed that improving the levels of Estradiol and Estrone can help reduce menopause signs. If you want to mitigate menopause signs, including yam in your daily diet can help.

  • Manages Gastrointestinal Problems

Yam is considered a highly beneficial vegetable effective in treating irregular bowel movements, especially when dealing with constipation. This vegetable is also helpful in treating dysentery, diarrhea, etc. You can include yam in your daily diet since it can help maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract by supplying the required probiotics.

In addition to the benefits discussed above, yam also offers a cooling effect on your body. It can help promote a smooth and even blood flow across veins and arteries. Yam also helps lower stress levels and high blood pressure. You can only enjoy its multiple health benefits if you consume it in moderation and don’t indulge in overconsumption.

Different Ways to Consume Yam for People with Diabetes

Here’s a list of a few recipes for you to prepare yam to make a healthy meal:

After peeling off the skin, cut the yam into small pieces and boil for 20 minutes. Add salt, 4-5 chopped chillies, and onion to the yam. Meanwhile, stir fry two fish and add them to the yam. Garnish it with coriander leaves. 

Boil the chopped yam for 10 minutes to soften it. Heat the pan with vegetable oil, take the yam out, and add it to the frying pan. Add salt, pepper, chopped chillies, spring onion, and finely cut mushrooms for 5 minutes before turning off the flame. Stir-fried yam is ready.

Finely chop the yam into thin slices, and add salt, a pinch of chilli powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder and mix it well. Bake it in the oven for 15 minutes. A tasty and healthy yam snack is ready. 

These were some recipes out of several that you can try to make a healthy yam meal. As it is high in carbohydrates, it is recommended not to add other starchy vegetables. Instead, you can add other fibre-rich vegetables and chicken or fish if you want a protein-rich meal.

Bottomline

If you have always wondered, "is yam good for diabetes?” then understand that Yam is a healthy alternative to potatoes for people with diabetes. Another question that people have in mind is whether the three-leaf yam is good for diabetes. It is a bitter-tasting variety of yams and mainly contains trace minerals like iron, phosphorus, calcium, etc. These are necessary to keep the organs functioning at their optimum level. Therefore, the answer to the question “Is yam good for diabetes?” is YES. It is a healthy option and a better alternative to potatoes, with a high glycemic index of 82 on average. 

FAQs

Is yam good for diabetes

Yes, Yam is good for diabetes due to its low G.I. value and rich fiber property.

What are the risks of overconsumption of yam for people with diabetes?

Yam has a low glycemic index but has a high amount of carbohydrates, which can cause high blood sugar if consumed in large amounts.

How much Yam should people with diabetes eat?

Due to its high carbohydrate content, doctors recommend that people with diabetes should not consume more than 80 grams per day. 

What is the best time to eat Yam?

Our body burns most of the calories during the day, so eating Yam for lunch is the best option, which is during the day. 

Are Yams Ok for Diabetics?

Yes, yams are ok for diabetics. Yam ranks lower in GI, making it safe for consumption without triggering blood sugar spikes. Yam is also rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so it helps your body function better. You can consider replacing any high GI item from your diet with yam to see visible results.

Can Diabetics Eat Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

Yes, diabetics can eat yams or sweet potatoes in moderate amounts. Since they are high in essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, yams are considered safe and a healthy food option for people with diabetes. The best way to eat sweet potatoes or yams is by boiling them since boiled yam has higher resistant starch, which doesn’t spike blood glucose levels.

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