Yam and Diabetes

Yam and Diabetes


Glycemic index:


Calories per 100 g:

118 kcal

Yam, which is high in nutrients, especially fiber, is listed amongst the foods that can help regulate weight and blood cholesterol levels. But that’s not all to yam; it offers so much more. 

This article highlights the potential health benefits this tuber vegetable presents to diabetics, drawing from research on yam and diabetes.

Nutritional value

  • Protein 1.53 g
  • Carbohydrate 27.9 g
  • Fat 0.17 g
  • Fiber 4.1 g
  • Sugar 0.5 g
  • Cholesterol 0 g

Nutritional Value of Yams

Yams are rich sources of fiber and protein. According to the USDA, one cup of boiled yam cubes offers 5.3 g of fiber and 2.03 g of protein. This feature of yam is especially beneficial in keeping you filled for long, avoiding incessant eating — which promotes optimal weight management. Add to that its low-calorie content of 158 cal per cup.

While yam may contain a relatively high carb amount at 37.4 g per cup, its low glycemic index (GI) of 51 alongside its moderate glycemic load (GL) of 9.3 per ¾ cup compensates for this. Namely, by slowing down the release of glucose into the bloodstream, it offers maximal benefits in diabetics that consume yam moderately.

Yams also provide significant amounts of antioxidants like vitamins A and C.

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Why You Should Include Yam in Your Diet

Are you still baffled about how yams could benefit your diabetic health? We explored research on yams and diabetes to present you with an overview of its essential blood sugar-regulating properties.


Can Potentially Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been related to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Thankfully, yam powder has been proven by many rat trials to reduce inflammation associated with various disorders, including diabetes.

Moreover, the outer bark of yam roots is high in steroid saponin, polyphenol, and flavonoids — compounds that are hypothesized to aid in the reduction of inflammation.


Aids Blood Sugar Control

Yams have been shown to play a role in overall blood glucose control. This claim is reinforced by a study where streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats were administered either yam water extract or crude yam powder. Remarkably, the rats' fasting blood sugar (FBS) and hemoglobin A levels—both blood sugar control markers—dropped significantly.

A similar study indicated that treating hyperglycemic rats with modified water yam flour lowered the rate of blood sugar absorption, resulting in better blood sugar control. The resistant starch and fiber in yams are thought to be responsible for these effects.

Resistant starches and fiber go undigested in your stomach. As a result, these carbohydrates can aid in appetite management and blood sugar regulation. Furthermore, although yams may not be as sweet as sweet potatoes, still, they contain enough sugar to offer a natural sweetness to your meals and help you control your hunger.


Improves Heart Health

Maintaining proper salt levels in your bloodstream is a critical aspect of maintaining a healthy heart. Yams are beneficial to your heart health since they flush out any excess salt in your body due to their high potassium content (911 mg per cup). As a result, yams lower your chance of long-term ailments such as hypertension and heart attack, significant risks for diabetic people.

Aside from the potassium-linked heart-friendly benefits yam offers, its decent manganese content also assists in maintaining healthy blood vessels.


Helps You Lose Weight

Glucomannan, a water-soluble fiber found in the roots of this elephant yam (konjac), is said to aid weight loss. When this fiber is digested, it transforms into a gel that sits in your stomach and makes you feel fuller for longer. As a result, your cravings are reduced, and weight loss is easier to achieve.

In one animal study, yam extract reduced food intake, implying that these tubers may aid in appetite suppression and overall weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for people with diabetes since obesity is a high-risk factor for the condition.


Can Help Lower Cholesterol

The unique soluble fiber present promulgates this feature in yams — cholesterol's biggest enemy. This fiber works by circling cholesterol, attaching to it, and subsequently eliminating it from your body.

Furthermore, yams have been demonstrated to affect cholesterol levels in humans. In one yam and diabetes study, the daily intake of 390 g (about 14 oz) of yams in postmenopausal women for 30 days saw their blood cholesterol levels drop by an impressive 5.9%.

Is Yam Consumption Advised in Diabetics?

Although yam contains relatively high carb amounts, its low GI, low-calorie content, and decent fiber content compensates for this. Hence, to avoid a surge in your blood glucose levels, moderate consumption of yams is advised for people with diabetes. Overall, it is a healthy choice for weight watchers, diabetics, and people with heart disease.

How to Include Yams in Your Diet

Incorporating yams into your diet is relatively straightforward due to the many varieties available. For example, you can buy yams in whole or in powder, flour, or supplement form. Some popular ways to eat yams include frying, pureeing, making yam chips, mashed yams, baked yams, and more.


Yams are packed with nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and protein that have shown tremendous potentials in keeping your blood sugar level in check. Still, that doesn’t qualify it as a food to consume indiscriminately. To enjoy the benefits these root tubers offer, eat them in moderation.

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