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Often confused with sweet potatoes, these ancient foods have been cultivated since 50,000 BC in Africa and Asia.
Yams are creamy or firm when cooked, with an earthy flavor that's considerably less sugary than sweet potatoes.
Yam or sweet potato?
Most of the vegetables that are labeled “yams” in the United States are really orange-colored sweet potatoes.
When orange sweet potatoes were introduced into the United States in the mid-20th century, growers needed to distinguish it from the white-fleshed sweet potato that most people were used to. So, they called them “yams” from “nyami”, the African word for the plant.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that orange-colored sweet potatoes labeled “yams” also be accompanied by the label “sweet potato”, but this is not done consistently, and hasn't helped clarify the distinction between these two very different root vegetables.
Once you experience real yams you will definitely know the difference, appreciating each of these root vegetables for their distinct tastes and textures.
Yams for heart health
Yams are a good source of vitamin B6, which the body uses to break down a substance called homocysteine, which damages artery walls. People who have high levels of homocysteine can suffer a heart attack despite having normal or even low cholesterol levels.
Yams are also good sources of potassium, which helps to control blood pressure. Since many people consume lots of sodium in processed foods, they may be deficient in the potassium needed to balance it for blood pressure control.
Baked Yams with Sockeye Salmon, Sour Cream, and Chives
Variation: Add ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper sauce or ½ teaspoon ground coriander to sour cream mixture.
Makes 4 servings
2 cans (7.5 oz each) Traditional Wild Red Sockeye Salmon or 2 cans (6 oz each) skinless-boneless Wild Red Sockeye Salmon
4 medium yams or sweet potatoes
1 cup light sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Sea salt and organic black pepper
Fresh salad greens
- Drain and chunk sockeye salmon, removing skin and bones (if any). Cover and set aside. Blend sour cream and chives in bowl; refrigerate until needed.
- Wipe yams clean with damp paper towels. Pierce each yam with a fork. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes in 400°F oven or 8 to 10 minutes in microwave, turning occasionally, until tender to the touch.
- Slice each yam lengthwise to nearly split; spoon in ¼ cup sour cream mixture.
- Top with Alaska salmon chunks; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with fresh salad greens.
Nutrients per serving: 356 calories, 11 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 29% calories from fat, 78 mg cholesterol, 25 g protein, 39 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 754 mg sodium, 365 mg calcium, and 1.8 g omega-3 fatty acids.