Yams are often called African bread or African potatoes. And all due to the fact that this plant contains a set of nutritional components that can saturate the human body for a long time. This name summarizes several species of plants of the dioscoreic family. Often wild yams are called - dioscorea.

There is an ancient Greek legend about a flexible, thin girl with such a melodious name, who had to turn into a vine to save her beloved. According to another, no less popular legend, the origin of the name of this plant is associated with the name of the Greek physician Dioscorides. Be that as it may, yams is an amazing plant that has a ton of beneficial properties and is highly regarded in modern medicine.

Botanical Description

Yams, or Dioscorea, is a tuberous plant. Its stem is flexible and thin, spreads over the surface and captures the nearby free space, as is characteristic of plants vines. He has a very developed root system. The tubers used in food are deep underground and have an oblong, elongated shape. They can grow up to 2 meters in length. The weight of some specimens can reach 70 kg. From above they are covered with a thin peel of light pink, white or reddish-brown. The pulp inside the fruit is white or yellow. Dioscorea leaves resemble bright green hearts in shape. This plant does not bloom often, propagates by transplanting rhizomes.

Habitat

The plant is very demanding on heat and light, so its habitat is usually the tropics or subtropics. Yam is widely distributed in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America. The plant has high wear resistance, firmly resists various diseases and pests.

Each country grows its own types of yams. For example, in China, Chinese and Japanese yams are very common, and in Africa, varieties of yellow and white yams are successfully cultivated. There are also bulbous, winged yams, as well as edible and round dioscorea. I would especially like to highlight wild yams, which contain a very useful substance - diosgenin. Today, Nigeria is considered the largest country producing yams.

Chemical composition

Yam tubers are rich in nutritious starch and protein. They contain beneficial vitamins and minerals with significant healing properties.

Table No. 1 "Nutritional value of yams"
Squirrels1.49 g
Fats0.16 g
Carbohydrates23.69 g
Ash0.79 g
Water68.9 g
Cellulose4.2 g

From the table you can see the predominance of carbohydrates and fiber in the composition of dioscorea.

Table No. 2 "The chemical composition represented by minerals and vitamins"
Beta Carotene (Vitamin A)82 mcg
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)0.113 mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)0.031 mg
Niacin0.551 mg
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)0.313 mg
Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)0.294 mg
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)23 mg
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)17.09 mg
Tocopherol (Vitamin E)0.34 mg
Phylloquinone (Vitamin K)2.29 mcg
Choline (Vitamin B4)16.4 mg
Potassium815 mg
Calcium16.9 mg
Magnesium21 mg
Sodium8.9 mg
Phosphorus55 mg
Iron0.53 mg
Manganese398 mcg
Copper179 mcg
Selenium0.7 mcg
Zinc0.23 mcg

The energy value of the product is about 119 kcal per 100 grams of yams.

Cooking Application

The plant is widely used in cooking and medicine. Its processing is akin to our potatoes. In a raw form, dioscorea tubers are not consumed as they contain harmful impurities. But it can be used in other types: fried, boiled, stewed, baked. Grind the dried vegetable and get flour, which is subsequently used for making flat cakes, various pastries and in the preparation of sauces.

Medical use

The use of yams has a beneficial effect on the human body. Its roots contain substances that promote blood thinning, thereby preventing the development of atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Tincture of them helps with high blood pressure and with thinning of blood vessels. Regular consumption of this vegetable has a positive effect on blood sugar, which is why it is useful for people with diabetes. According to repeated reviews of doctors, this plant is an excellent prophylactic for female oncological diseases. Yam has an extensive antispasmodic effect: reduces pain during menstruation, relieves headaches. This vegetable is used in the manufacture of anthelmintic drugs and is used to remove toxic and toxic substances from the body.

Wild Yam Products

The tubers of wild yam contain a useful steroid, diosgenin, an artificial progesterone substitute used to make birth control pills in the treatment of the reproductive system and sexual function of the body. In eastern medicine, the plant is used to treat rheumatic pains, asthma, and menstrual irregularities and normalizes hormonal levels.

In laboratory conditions, dioscorin alkaloid is isolated from wild yam, which protects the body from free radicals and has a hypotensive effect. It is used in modern medicine for the manufacture of various medications.

In the modern world, based on dioscorea, dietary supplements are created - biologically active additives. Initially, they began to be used in the United States, but now they have spread to the territory of Russia and Ukraine. It is proposed to use these additives for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes, atherosclerosis and heart diseases.

Landing and care

In our latitudes, only Chinese and Japanese yams are well established. Planted it from small tubers. In our climate, it is difficult to grow this plant, for its cultivation it is better to use the greenhouse method. The plant is very demanding on sunlight and humidity. It needs to be planted to a depth of about 20 cm.

The plant is unpretentious. It can grow in loose and clay soil. But when applying the latter, it may be difficult to dig up the fruit. Yams loves water, so watering is an integral part of plant care. The plant will not grow in dry soil. Important, of course, and plant nutrition. Nitrogen is considered a good fertilizer for dioscorea. It is advised to fertilize the soil 3-4 weeks after planting. It is necessary to monitor the appearance of weeds and timely to plant and loosen the soil. In general, looking after him is easy. Growing it is very similar to growing our potatoes.

Contraindications and harmful properties

In case of an overdose of the plant, nausea, vomiting, disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract, allergic reactions can occur. Do not abuse its use in large quantities. Since the substances contained in yam secrete phytoestrogens, they are contraindicated for use in female oncological diseases: breast cancer, cancer of the uterus and ovaries.

It is not recommended to use medications based on yams for gastritis, liver and kidney diseases.

Findings

Yam is a thermophilic subtropical plant that looks very much like our potatoes. Distributed mainly in hot countries, so cultivating it in our latitudes is fraught with some difficulties. It is eaten fried, boiled, stewed. Grind it into flour, for use in the confectionery industry. Dioscorea has amazing healing qualities.

Until recently, this was the only product from which progesterone was artificially obtained. It is indispensable for pregnant women and for women trying to have children. Yam also has a positive effect on the circulatory system, prevents the formation of blood clots and normalizes blood pressure. By the way, it is a prophylactic in female oncology, but if the disease already exists, the use of drugs based on yam is strongly not recommended. They are also contraindicated in gastritis and various diseases of the kidneys and liver. Yams is an amazing product rich in properties that are beneficial to the body, but you should not abuse it.

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