Yam Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  9 min read
yams benefits and side effects

Health

Yam health benefits may include:

Yams are…

a kids book about plant based eating
Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 343 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of yams / 41 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of yams

Carbon footprint: low, 0.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of starchy roots, a car driving equivalent of 1 miles or 1.5 kilometers

Destruction: low, yam production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Yams are…

Animals

Kills: none, yam production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, yam production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly killed or harmed: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from yam production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Yams are…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Yams…

Where do most yams come from?

The world’s top yam producing country is Nigeria, followed by Ghana and Ivory Coast. The world’s top yam exporting country is Jamaica, followed by Ghana, USA, Japan, Costa Rica, Colombia, China, Brazil, Vietnam and Netherlands.

Are yams nutritious?

Yes! Yams are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, rich in potassium, manganese, copper, and vitamin C.

acidic foods and alkaline diet to improve ph levels

yams are alkaline.

Are yams alkaline or acidic? Yams are alkaline. What is the pH level of yams? Yams have a 9.0 pH level once digested.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

yams are gluten free.

gluten free foods and what to eat on a gluten free diet

Are yams gluten free? Yes, yams are gluten free. Yams do not contain gluten. Yams is a type of root vegetable, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

yams are not a common food allergen.

the most common food allergens include milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Are yams a common food allergen? No, yams are not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to yams but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

yams have a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Do yams have a high or low water footprint? Yams have a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of yams? It takes 343 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of yams / 41 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of yams.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

yams are have a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Do yams have a high or low carbon footprint? Yams have a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of yams? It takes around 0.4 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of starchy roots, a car driving equivalent of 1 miles or 1.5 kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

yams are sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, are yams eco friendly? Are yams sustainable?

Yam production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

yams are vegan.

vegan food to eat on a vegan diet

Are yams vegan? Yes, yams are vegan. Yams are a root vegetable and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

yams are a product that may or may not have labor issues.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Are yams a product associated with labor concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns associated with yam production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Sweet Potatoes & Yams – SNAP-Ed Connection

Yam, cooked, boiled, drained, or baked, without salt

Yam Inspection Instructions | Agricultural Marketing Service

What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

Natural antioxidant potential of selected underutilized wild yams

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.