What Is Purple Yam? Nutrition, Benefits, And Side Effects

Purple yam is a tasty addition to many dishes and adds a unique color to them. Its nutritional value and sweet potato-like texture make it an excellent edible tuber. The savory vegetable is replete with many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It regulates metabolism, controls weight, raises good cholesterol levels, and offers various healing benefits. The healthfulness of purple yams can be attributed to its acylated anthocyanin, an important antioxidant compound. As a result of its pleasant taste, global availability, and numerous health benefits, this vegetable can be a viable alternative to unhealthy chips and candies. Learn more about its nutritional facts, health benefits, and potential side effects you may need to be wary about.

What Is Purple Yam?

Purple yam is a starchy vegetable belonging to the Dioscoreaceae family and is known as a greater yam. It is scientifically known as Dioscorea alata. This tuber is often confused with sweet potatoes. Humans are familiar with about 600 species of yam. Purple yam has greyish-brown skin and purple flesh that resembles a sweet potato. You will find these tubers in distinct shapes and sizes depending on their variety. These soften to attain a soft potato-like texture in the cooking process. Purple yams are incorporated for sweet or savory dishes and processed into starchy substances used to flavor and improve other preparations. While they have their origins in the Asian tropics, the yams are cultivated all over the world.

Purple yams have high fiber, low glycemic index, and low sugar content. They offer complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. They also have a good balance of calcium, iron, copper, manganese, and phosphorus. These elements promote one’s overall health and can help prevent many illnesses. Let us further understand the nutritional profile of purple yam from the section below.

Nutrition Facts Of Purple Yam

100 grams of purple yam (yam) contain the following nutrients (1):


118 kcal


1.53 g


27.89 g

Dietary Fiber

4.1 g


816 mg


55 mg

Let us now understand how these nutrients offer an array of health benefits.

Health Benefits Of Purple Yam

1. May Help Improve Blood Circulation

Yam is loaded with minerals like potassium that may promote blood circulation. Potassium is also vasoactive and studies show that it may promote blood flow (2). In addition, anthocyanin, a purple pigment found in purple yam, plays a major role in blood circulation. Several studies have suggested that anthocyanin-rich foods may improve vascular health (health of the blood vessels) (3).

2. May Help Treat Digestive Problems

The fiber and pectin in purple yams may help promote digestion. Fiber-rich foods help cleanse the intestines. Fiber has also been shown to improve gut motility and be an effective treatment and prevention strategy for constipation (4). Pectin also has unique properties that may prevent or treat intestinal infections (5).

3. May Reduce Cancer Risk

Purple yams are rich in vitamin C that is a potent anticancer agent. Vitamin C works to eliminate free radicals, which may otherwise increase cancer risk. In addition, antioxidants such as vitamin C are known to scavenge reactive oxygen species, preventing DNA damage and other cancer-associated effects (6).

4. May Help In Weight Loss

The yams are high in fiber, which may help reduce your energy intake and promote weight loss. Fiber also keeps you satiated and discourages overeating (7). Furthermore, purple yams contain fewer calories. A low-calorie diet may help with weight loss.

5. May Improve Brain Health

Purple yams are rich in anthocyanins. Many anthocyanins have shown anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In mice studies, these were also found to reduce cognition deficits (8). Anthocyanins also lower cellular death and are found to be neuroprotective (9). In addition, purple yams contain diosgenin, a compound associated with brain function and neuron growth. A study found that diosgenin can enhance neuronal excitation and memory function (10).

These are the important benefits of purple yam. Keep reading to understand how you can add purple yam to your diet.

Purple Yam Recipes

1. Purple Yam Jam

What You Need

  •  750 grams of purple yam
  •  1/4 cup of butter
  •  1 can of condensed milk
  •  ½ can of unsweetened condensed milk
  •  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


  1.  Cook yams in boiling water until they turn tender. Peel the skin and gently grate the flesh.
  2.  Melt the butter and add the condensed milk, vanilla extract, and yam flesh to a pan.
  3.  Cook for 30 minutes on low heat until the mixture turns sticky. Add the unsweetened condensed milk and cook for another 15 minutes.
  4.  Transfer it to a glass container and let it cool down to room temperature. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
  5.  It can be used as a spread or pudding or mixed with ice cream.

2. Roasted Purple Yam

What You Need

  •  250 grams of purple yam
  •  100 grams of red onions•
  •  5 tablespoons of olive oil
  •  1/4 tablespoon of salt
  •  ½ a tablespoon of parsley, finely chopped


  1.  Preheat the oven to 425o F.
  2.  Dice the purple yam and red onion roughly and toss them with the oil.
  3.  Place them on a baking sheet.
  4.  Bake them for 15 minutes or until you get a crisp texture.
  5.  Sprinkle salt and parsley and serve hot.

Although purple yam has numerous benefits, one must also consider a few of their potential downsides. In most cases, excess consumption of this vegetable can trigger undesirable health effects. Learn more in the next section.

Side Effects Of Purple Yam


Anecdotal evidence suggests that some people may experience headaches after eating purple yam in excess. In some cases, people may also experience vomiting.
Allergic Reactions

Some people may experience rashes and irritation with the use of wild yam (11). Intake of purple yam may have similar reactions in some people. Such reactions warrant a doctor’s visit.

Drug Interactions

Some research states that yam can increase the levels of estrone and estradiol (12). Hence, if you are taking any hormonal medications, do not include yam in your diet.

Many people confuse purple yam with sweet potato. Even though both sweet potatoes and yams are root vegetables, their taste, nutritional qualities, and origins are different. Read on to understand the key differences between purple yam and sweet potato.

Purple Yam Vs. Sweet Potato

Purple Yam

Sweet Potato

Purple yam is indigenous to Asia.

Sweet potatoes probably originated in Central and South America.

Purple yams are somewhat rare to find.

Supermarkets often stock sweet potatoes.

Rough, brown, scaly skin.

Smooth, orange, thin skin.

Long and cylindrical.

Short and blocky.

Dry and starchy.

Moist and sweet.

Key Takeaways

  •  Purple yam is known for its purple flesh and is used in various cuisines all over the world.•
  •  It has a low glycemic index and a high fiber content that offer many health benefits.
  •  Purple yam is often confused with sweet potato – though the two are significantly different.


Purple yam is known for its unique color and is an excellent addition to many dishes. If included as a part of the diet, it can help boost blood circulation and prevent digestive problems and constipation. Purple yam may also reduce cancer risk due to the presence of vitamin C. It also aids in weight loss and helps promote brain health thanks to its anthocyanins. However, some potential downsides of purple yams include headaches, allergic reactions, and medical interactions. Hence, caution is advised. Consume purple yams moderately to reap their benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are ube and purple yam the same?

Yes, ube and purple yam are the same. They have different names in different places.

Can purple yam be eaten raw?

No, it can’t be eaten raw. It is mostly cooked or boiled.

Are purple sweet potatoes white inside?

No, they are not white inside. They have purple-tinted skin with a deep purple flesh inside.

Is purple sweet potato the same as taro?

No, both are not the same. They are different vegetables with differences in colors and textures.

Are purple sweet potatoes healthier than purple yams?

Yes, purple sweet potatoes are considered healthier. Purple sweet potatoes offer a wider range of health benefits and they help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.