Water Yam: Simple Facts, Uses And Benefits To Know

water yam

In this article, we would be looking at one of the many types of yam : Water Yam.

Dioscorea alata is a species of yam (a tuber) that goes by various names,

including purple yam, ube (/ˈuːbɛ, -beɪ/), and greater yam. 

The tubers’ common name comes from their typical colour, which ranges from brilliant lavender to intense violet-purple, however some are as plain as white. 

It is known by the igbo’s as Ji Mbuna or Ji Abana,  Yoruba’s as Isu Ewura and Hausa’s as Dunduu.

The farming methods, culinary customs, and traditional beliefs of Nigeria are intricately linked to the history of the water yam (Dioscorea alata). 

Brief History

Although precise historical documents might not be easily obtainable, 

yam farming and eating—especially water yam—have long been essential components of Nigerian culture. 

The water yam originates from West Africa and has been cultivated since ancient times. 

It is one of the native yam species that Nigerians have cultivated and tamed for many years.

Water Yam in Nigeria

In Nigerian civilization, the water yam is deeply symbolic and culturally significant. 

Yams are frequently connected to success, abundance, and fertility. 

Yam festivals are held in many Nigerian villages as a way to honour the crop and show appreciation for a bountiful harvest.

It is a staple food and a source of income for many in West Africa. 

As a staple food, yams have been essential to maintaining food security in Nigeria. 

The local community has been able to survive because of the consistent production of yams, especially water yam. 

They have done a good job of adapting to the various climates in their various locales. 

Farmers have chosen cultivars that are thriving in their own local settings, and it is widely cultivated.

Description Of The Crop

Water yams have purple or white flesh and greyish-brown skins. 

When cooked, they take on the texture of potatoes. 

They are used in many different cuisines, from savoury to sweet, and have a sweet and nutty flavour.

They are climbers and have simple, broad leaves and capsule fruit. 

Individual crops can grow to 2.2 m.

Nutritional Information

Nutrient-dense water yams have the potential to significantly improve human health. 

They consist of iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper, potassium, vitamins C and E, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. 

For 100 g of raw water yam

Calories121.5 kcl
Fat0.1 g
Protein2.4 g
Carbohydrate26.5 g
Calcium2.04 mg
Iron 0.7 mg
Magnesium 21 mg
Phosphorus 122 mg
Potassium 816 mg
Sodium 6 mg
Zinc 0.43 mg
Copper 0.21 mg
Manganese 0 mg
Water Yam (Raw) nutrition information

Uses Of Water Yam

Here are some of the uses of Water yam in Nigeria

Food Consumption: Boiled or Roasted Yam: Water yams are frequently used as the primary source of carbohydrates in meals, either boiled or roasted.

Traditional Ceremonies: A common ingredient in customary rituals and celebrations is water yam. 

Special dishes are prepared using it for events and get-togethers.

Cultural Significance: The water yam holds great significance in Nigerian customs and culture. 

It represents fertility and abundance and is important to many ceremonies and rituals.

Culinary Variations: A flexible component, water yam can be used to make a variety of dishes, including yam pancakes, yam pottage, and yam porridge.

Food Security: the crop is an important crop for food security in Nigeria. 

Its cultivation contributes to the overall food supply, providing a reliable source of sustenance.

Medicinal Uses: Certain traditional medical systems in Nigeria employ water yam for therapeutic purposes. 

It is believed to offer certain health benefits and is used in herbal remedies.

Health Benefits Of Water Yam

Lower Blood Cholesterol:

The International Food Research Journal reported that modified water yam flour was effective in reducing triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels. 

This indicates that its fiber content is hypocholesteromic.

Regulate Blood Sugar Levels:

The glycemic index of water yam is low. 

Water yam is a vegetable high in starch and nutritional fiber. 

Additionally, it has complex starch, which enters the bloodstream gradually and is removed gradually as well. 

This aids in keeping blood sugar levels within normal ranges.

Reduce Inflammation:

The crops antioxidants might aid in lowering long-term inflammation. 

You may manage chronic inflammation, which is linked to a higher risk of diseases including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, 

by eating foods high in anti-inflammatory compounds like water yam.

High Fiber Content:

For those who experience constipation or piles, this makes water yams a healthy dietary choice. 

It has dietary fiber in it, which softens stools and facilitates bowel movement. 

Additionally, it guards against irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia (IBS).

Improves Brain Health:

They are rich in potassium minerals, which improve brain function. Potassium controls brain nerve activity.

Healthy Eyesight:

Vitamins A, C, and E found in water yams support good eyesight. 

It strengthens the body’s defenses. 

It lessens the likelihood that you may experience macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.


Cardiovascular Diseases:

The presence of vitamin B6 in water yam helps lower the risk of heart disease. 

To break down a chemical called homocysteine, the body needs vitamin B6. 

A heart attack may arise from elevated homocysteine levels. 

The walls of blood vessels are harmed by homocysteine.

Helps Lower Blood Pressure:

it’s crucial for the management and prevention of hypertension. 

They are a heart-healthy food. It has calcium, magnesium, and potassium in it. 

It has little sodium as well. Both the diastolic and systolic measurements are lowered by water yam. Put another way, it reduces hypertension.

Digestive Health:

Research suggests that the resistant starch in the crop may enhance the food-digesting enzymes. 

It also boosts the quantity of beneficial bacteria in your stomach.

Weight loss:

Dietary fiber is abundant in water yams. It has few calories. 

Complex starch found in water yams releases and absorbs slowly into the bloodstream. 

It lessens hunger and encourages losing weight.

Helps in treatment of Diabetes:

Based on research, the yam is a perfect diet for diabetics. 

According to certain studies, it can improve glucose metabolism, stabilize the rate of digestion, and regulate blood sugar levels. 

The fact that the tuber is slowly absorbed and digested by the body and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes is another reason that it can be extremely beneficial to those who have the illness. 

Furthermore, sugar from the yam quenches your desire for extra sugar while naturally sweetening your meals.

Hope this article was helpful?

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