Three Leaved Yam: Simple Facts, Uses And Benefits

three leaved yam

Dioscorea dumetorum is a species of flowering plant in the yam family Dioscorea. 

It is sometimes referred to as the bitter yam, cluster yam, trifoliate yam, or three-leaved yam. 

It is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria, Benin, and Ghana being among the tropical West African countries where it is most prevalent.

It is known as ji ònà in Igbo language, èsúrú in Yoruba language, ánêm in Ibibio language, Kosanrogo in Hausa language and mbá in Duala language. 

It has a fleshy, potato-like root called a tuber that is utilized as medicine or as sustenance during famines.

Take caution not to confuse wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) or air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) with bitter yam (Dioscorea dumetorum). 

Sometimes, all three are referred to as bitter yams.

Description of Three-Leaved-Yam 

Dioscorea dumetorum has distinctive trifoliate leaves, similar to the Indian three-leaf yam Dioscorea hispida. 

There are three to seven veins per leaflet on each leaf.

The vine features distinctive twining to the left and prickles that are ridged and rising. 

D. dumetorum climbs up shrubs to a maximum height of roughly 7 metres. 

From the subterranean tubers, the vines develop every year. 

Deeply lobed, D. dumetorum tubers grow in bunches close below the soil’s surface.

The bitter yam has brown flowers. 

Whereas female flowers are grouped in spikes, male flowers are organized in intricate branched patterns. 

The seeds are oblong-shaped, winged capsules.

Because of the high concentration of the alkaloids dihydrodioscorine and dioscorine, it is extremely dangerous in its wild form.

Nonetheless, West Africa has edible varieties that are not poisonous. 

For instance, there are fifteen known non-toxic indigenous forms of D. dumetorum in Benin.

Nutritional Information of Three Leaved Yam

Ash 0.2%
Protein 5.577%
Fiber 0%
Fat 0.012%
Amylose 21.5%
Ph 5.85%

Proximate composition of three leaved yam starch

Uses  Of Three Leaved Yam

You can eat bitter yam raw, cooked, or boiling. 

The tuber’s flour is used to produce porridge and unleavened bread. 

The seeds are dried after going through a detoxifying process, but they can also be consumed.

It is often grown as a fallback crop in the event that other crops fail. 

However, D. dumetorum’s frequent toxicity and propensity to harden after harvesting limit its regular use.

Nontoxic D. dumetorum variants are widespread. 

These cultivars are used in subsistence farming in nations like Nigeria and Benin.

The tuber is high in starch and nutritional content, 

The bitter yam species is still important to the local economy and culture, nevertheless. 

Health Benefits

Although there’s not enough research to prove these, it is said to be helpful in treating 

  • Diabetes, 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 
  • Stomach pain (colic), 
  • Menstrual disorders, 
  • A disease caused by parasitic worms called schistosomiasis. 

Other benefits include:

Improves brain function:

Diosgenin, a special ingredient in yams, has been shown to improve neuron development and brain function. 

Diosgenin improved mice’s memory and learning abilities in many maze tests.

Alleviates Menopause symptoms:

Yams can help with some menopausal symptoms. 

Contains Anti-cancer properties:

A variety of antioxidants found in yams have the potential to prevent cancer. 

Controls blood sugar level:

Bitter yams could assist you in keeping your blood sugar levels in check. 

Lowers the rate of blood sugar absorption:

Better blood sugar regulation is the outcome of bitter yams’ resistant starch and fiber, which slow down the rate of blood sugar absorption. 

Through your intestines, resistant starch passes undigested. 

Improved blood sugar regulation, improved insulin sensitivity, and weight loss are just a few of the health benefits linked to this type of starch.

Aids in inflammation reduction:

Yam antioxidants have the ability to reduce inflammation. 

A higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are just a few of the conditions that have been linked to chronic inflammation. 

Foods that reduce inflammation, such as yams, are helpful in the treatment of chronic inflammation. 

Side Effects

It is necessary to take caution in the method of consumption. Bitter yam that is wild and raw might be dangerous to consume or swallow as medication. 

It has ingredients that have the potential to be toxic and convulsive. 

Digoxin, a prescription medication, and bitter yam share similar chemical compositions (Lanoxin). 

These substances may result in a heartbeat that is dangerously erratic.

Hope this article was helpful?

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