While yams appear very similar to sweet potatoes, they’re quite different. In fact, they’re not even related. Yams belong to the Dioscoreae or morning glory family, while sweet potatoes are from the genus Convolvulaceae. Yams (from the African word “nyami,” meaning “to eat”) have only one embryonic seed leaf, while sweet potatoes have two, as previously noted. Here Evangelyn Rodriguez, NaturalNews.com, reflects on a study of yam flour as a substitute for wheat flour in many food products:
Yam is a staple crop grown in Asia, the Caribbean, South Pacific and Africa. In some parts of the world, particularly in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, yam serves as the main source of calories in people’s diets.
According to researchers at North Dakota State University, increased utilization of local staple crops, such as sorghum, sweet potato and yam, can benefit farmers and local
economies. These crops can be used for the production of composite flours and other unique food products, such as gluten-free cakes and pastries.
To support the development of such products, the researchers decided to study the functional characteristics of different yam flours. Specifically, they compared the physical and chemical properties of fermented (brown) yam flour and unfermented (white) yam flour with those of refined wheat flour. They reported their findings in an article published in the Journal of Food Processing and Preservation.
Yam flour proved to be more nutritious than refined wheat flour
Based on multiple analyses, the researchers found that compared with refined wheat flour — which has been stripped of most of its nutrient content due to processing — yam flours contain less protein (3.3 to 5.9 percent), arabinoxylans (0.93 to 1.40 percent), the antinutrient phytic acid (0.17 to 0.53 mg/g), phenolic acids (0.57 to 2.28 mg ferulic acid equivalent [FAE]/g), amylose (17.3 to 22.6 percent) and fat (0.2 to 0.4 percent). However, yam flours contain higher amounts of potassium (119 to 845 mg/100 g), ash (1.70 to 2.21 percent), total starch (73.8 to 74.2 percent) and dietary fiber 6.8 to 7.0 percent.”
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