Yams, are considered locally as a breakfast delicacy. Yams are members of the Dioscorea family. Depending upon the yam variety, of which there are about 200, its flesh may be of varying colors including white, ivory, yellow or purple while its thick skin may either be white, pink or brownish-black. Their shape is long and cylindrical (often times having offshoots referred to as “toes”) while their exterior texture is rough and scaly. Yams have a very starchy and slippery texture and when cooked, will either be creamy or firm, depending upon the variety. Their taste is earthy and hardy, with most varieties having minimal, if any, sweetness. Specific types of yams include Dioscorea alate (Hawaiian yam), Dioscorea batatas (korean yam) and Dioscorea esculenta (sweet yam).
Few are, however, aware that these are a natural cure for sickle-cell anaemia. The disease gets its name from the fact that a person’s red blood cells are shaped like sickles (a farm tool with a curved edge) instead of their usual round disc shape. Round is the healthiest shape for red blood cells because they can move easily through the body.
Anytime your body does not have enough red blood cells, you are said to be anaemic. When the cause of the disease is the sickle shape of the red blood cells, it is called sickle-cell anaemia. Patients often get painful episodes also called ‘crisis’. It happens when the sickle cells fail to move easily due to their shape and get stuck, especially inside smaller blood vessels. This keeps blood from flowing properly in the body, which can cause a lot of pain.
Yams have thiocyanate, which has been proven to greatly reduce the sickling of ted blood cells, hence may prevent the sickle-cell crisis. Thiocyanate, sometimes simply called ‘yam vitamin’ is a natural substance found in certain plants called nitrilosides among which are yams.
Reportedly, during the times when African yams were consumed as staples in Africa, sickle-cell anemia was non-existent. These foods are still consumed in Africa , but in smaller quantities and now sickle-cell anemia exists here.
Patients are also advised to follow a diet high in organic iron, cleansing natural chlorophyll , and the all anti-sickling nutrient, thiocyanate.
African yams are believed to be the richest source of thiocyanate, but millet, buckwheat, cabbage, cashew nuts, lima beans, greens, carrots, cauliflower, lentils, broccoli, strawberries,chickpeas, plantains and sorghum are known sources of thiocyanate.
Yams’ complex carbohydrates and fiber deliver the goods gradually, slowing the rate at which their sugars are released and absorbed into the bloodstream. In addition, because they’re rich in fiber, yams fill you up without filling out your hips and waistline. And one more benefit, yams are a good source of manganese, a trace mineral that helps with carbohydrate metabolism and is a cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. You’ve just got to hand it to Mother Nature; when She brings forth a food, She makes sure it integrates everything needed to contribute to your health and vitality.