The Dioscorea Genus (Yam)-An Appraisal of Nutritional and Therapeutic Potentials

Foods. 2020 Sep 16;9(9):1304. doi: 10.3390/foods9091304.


The quest for a food secure and safe world has led to continuous effort toward improvements of global food and health systems. While the developed countries seem to have these systems stabilized, some parts of the world still face enormous challenges. Yam (Dioscorea species) is an orphan crop, widely distributed globally; and has contributed enormously to food security especially in sub-Saharan Africa because of its role in providing nutritional benefits and income. Additionally, yam has non-nutritional components called bioactive compounds, which offer numerous health benefits ranging from prevention to treatment of degenerative diseases. Pharmaceutical application of diosgenin and dioscorin, among other compounds isolated from yam, has shown more prospects recently. Despite the benefits embedded in yam, reports on the nutritional and therapeutic potentials of yam have been fragmented and the diversity within the genus has led to much confusion. An overview of the nutritional and health importance of yam will harness the crop to meet its potential towards combating hunger and malnutrition, while improving global health. This review makes a conscious attempt to provide an overview regarding the nutritional, bioactive compositions and therapeutic potentials of yam diversity. Insights on how to increase its utilization for a greater impact are elucidated.

Keywords: Dioscorea; bioactive compounds; nutritional composition; therapeutic potential; yam.

Publication types

  • Review