7 Benefits of Purple Yam (Ube), and How It Differs from Taro
This tuberous root vegetable originates from Southeast Asia and is often confused with taro root. An indigenous staple of the Philippines, it's now cultivated and enjoyed worldwide.
Purple yams have greyish-brown skins and purple flesh, and their texture becomes soft like a potato when cooked.
They have a sweet, nutty flavor and are used in a variety of dishes ranging from sweet to savory.
What's more, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which may benefit your health.
Here are 7 surprising health benefits of purple yam.
1. Highly Nutritious
The purple yam (ube) is a starchy root vegetable that's a great source of carbs, potassium, and vitamin C.
One cup (100 grams) of cooked ube provides the following (1):
- Calories: 140
- Carbs: 27 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Sodium: 0.83% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Potassium: 13.5% of the DV
- Calcium: 2% of the DV
- Iron: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 40% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 4% of the DV
In addition, they are rich in powerful plant compounds and antioxidants, including anthocyanins, which give them their vibrant hue.
What's more, purple yams are rich in vitamin C, which helps keep your cells healthy, boosts iron absorption, and protects your DNA from damage (5).
Purple yams are starchy root vegetables that are rich in carbs, potassium, vitamin C, and phytonutrients, all of which are important for maintaining good health.
2. Rich in Antioxidants
Purple yams are rich in antioxidants, including anthocyanins and vitamin C.
Antioxidants help protect your cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals (6 Trusted Source).
Free radical damage is linked to many chronic conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders (7 Trusted Source).
Purple yams are a great source of vitamin C, which acts as a potent antioxidant in your body.
In fact, studies have shown that consuming more vitamin C can increase your antioxidant levels by up to 35%, protecting against oxidative cell damage (8 Trusted Source, 9 Trusted Source, 10 Trusted Source).
The anthocyanins in purple yams are also a type of polyphenol antioxidant.
Promising research suggests that two anthocyanins in purple yams — cyanidin and peonidin — may reduce the growth of certain types of cancers, including:
- Colon cancer. One study showed up to a 45% reduction in tumors in animals treated with dietary cyanidin, while another test-tube study found that it slowed the growth of human cancer cells (14 Trusted Source, 15).
- Lung cancer. A test-tube study observed that peonidin slowed the growth of lung cancer cells (16 Trusted Source).
- Prostate cancer. Another test-tube study noted that cyanidin reduced the number of human prostate cancer cells (17 Trusted Source).
That said, these studies used concentrated amounts of cyanidin and peonidin. Thus, it's unlikely that you would reap the same benefits from eating whole purple yams.
Purple yams are a great source of anthocyanins and vitamin C, both of which are powerful antioxidants. They have been shown to protect against cell damage and cancer.
3. May Help Manage Blood Sugar
The flavonoids in purple yams have been shown to help lower blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes.
Obesity and inflammation caused by oxidative stress increase your risk of insulin resistance, poor blood sugar control, and type 2 diabetes (18 Trusted Source).
Insulin resistance is when your cells don't respond properly to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for maintaining your blood sugar control.
One test-tube study observed that flavonoid-rich purple yam extracts reduced oxidative stress and insulin resistance by protecting insulin-producing cells in the liver (19).
In addition, a study in 20 rats found that administering them higher amounts of purple yam extract lowered appetite, encouraged weight loss, and improved blood sugar control (20).
Finally, another study reported that a purple yam supplement reduced the rate of blood sugar absorption in rats with elevated levels, resulting in improved blood sugar control (21).
This is likely due in part to purple yams' low glycemic index (GI). The GI, which ranges from 0–100, is a measure of how fast sugars are absorbed into your bloodstream.
The flavonoids in purple yams may help promote blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. Also, purple yams have a low glycemic index, which can help prevent blood sugar spikes.
4. May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Purple yams may have blood-pressure-lowering effects. Researchers believe this is likely due to their impressive antioxidant content (25).
A test-tube study found that purple yams contain antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure in a way similar to that of common blood-pressure-lowering medications called angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) (26).
Another test-tube study showed that the antioxidants in purple yams could prevent the conversion of angiotensin 1 to angiotensin 2, a compound responsible for elevated blood pressure (26).
While these results are promising, they were obtained in a lab. More human research is needed before concluding whether eating purple yams can lower your blood pressure.
Lab research has demonstrated the impressive blood-pressure-lowering effects of antioxidant-rich purple yam extracts. Still, more human studies are needed.
5. May Improve Symptoms of Asthma
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways.
One review of 40 studies found that the occurrence of asthma in adults was associated with low vitamin A intake. In fact, those with asthma were only meeting about 50% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A, on average (29).
In addition, the incidence of asthma increased by 12% in those who had low dietary vitamin C intake.
Purple yams are a good source of antioxidants and vitamins A and C, helping you reach your daily intake levels for these vitamins.
Antioxidants like vitamins A and C in purple yams may help reduce the risk and symptoms of asthma.
6. Promotes Gut Health
Purple yams may help improve your gut health.
They are full of complex carbs and a good source of resistant starch, a type of carb that is resistant to digestion.
One test-tube study showed that resistant starch from purple yams increased the number of Bifidobacteria, a type of beneficial gut bacteria, in a simulated large bowel environment (30 Trusted Source).
They may even help reduce your risk of certain conditions, such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They also produce healthy fatty acids and B vitamins (32 Trusted Source, 33 Trusted Source, 34 Trusted Source, 35 Trusted Source).
Furthermore, one study in mice found that purple yams had anti-inflammatory effects and decreased symptoms of colitis (36 Trusted Source).
However, more research is needed to know if eating whole purple yams has anti-inflammatory effects in humans with colitis.
The resistant starch in yams helps increase the growth of Bifidobacteria, which are healthy bacteria that play a vital role in maintaining your gut health.
7. Very Versatile
Purple yams have a wide range of culinary uses.
These versatile tubers can be boiled, mashed, fried, or baked. They are often used in a variety of dishes in place of other starchy vegetables, including:
In the Philippines, purple yams are made into a flour called ube, which is used in many desserts.
Furthermore, ube can be processed into a powder that can be used to make vibrantly colored foods, including rice, candy, cakes, desserts, and jams.
Purple yams can be converted into various forms, making them one of the most versatile vegetables in the world.
Purple Yam vs. Taro Root
Taro root (Colocasia esculenta) is a root vegetable native to Southeast Asia.
Often called the potato of the tropics, it varies in color from white to grey to lavender and has a mildly sweet taste.
Purple yams and taro root look similar, hence the confusion between the two. Nonetheless, when stripped of their skins, they are different colors.
Taro is grown from the tropical taro plant and is not one of the nearly 600 types of yams.
Taro root grows from the taro plant, and unlike purple yams, they are not a species of yam.
The Bottom Line
Purple yams are an incredibly nutritious starchy root vegetable.
Their powerful antioxidants may help reduce your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
They are tasty and versatile with a vibrant color, making them an exciting ingredient that can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Alexander Freund
The World Health Organization, along with its global partners in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced that it will provide 120 million rapid-diagnostic antigen tests to people in lower- and middle-income countries over the next six months. The tests represent a "massive increase" in testing worldwide, according to the Global Fund, a partnership that works to end epidemics.
Quick Test Can Break Infection Chains<p>"These tests provide reliable results in approximately 15 to 30 minutes, rather than hours or days, at a lower price with less sophisticated equipment," said WHO head Tedros, adding that the tests would cost as little as $5 each, and could become cheaper still. He said the rapid tests would help expand testing to hard-to-reach areas which aren't as well-equipped, or which are lacking trained health workers.</p><p>"High-quality rapid tests show us where the virus is hiding, which is key to quickly tracing and isolating contacts and breaking the chains of transmission," said Tedros. "The tests are a critical tool for governments as they look to reopen economies and ultimately save both lives and livelihoods."</p><p>Catharina Boehme, head of FIND, also welcomed the widespread rollout of cheap test kits. "This really shows what can be achieved when the world and leading global health partners come together with a common priority," she said.</p>
How Do COVID-19 Antigen Tests Work?<p>There are currently three different types of coronavirus diagnostic tests on the market: antigen tests, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and serology tests (ELISA). </p><p>Rapid antigen tests target virus proteins, and somewhat resemble pregnancy tests. They aren't yet available at pharmacies and can only be administered by trained medical personnel. With a nasal or throat swab, testers can find out within approximately 15 minutes whether a patient has contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is infectious and must be quarantined.</p><p>The advantage of rapid antigen tests is that they can be conducted quickly and on the spot. <br></p><p>It's hoped that this will help save the lives of thousands of people and slow the spread of the pandemic in the world's poorest countries. Rapid antigen tests can be used to carry out mass screenings among health care workers in low-income countries, who are at greater risk of death from COVID-19. These tests could also be used in schools, in the workplace and in nursing and retirement homes.</p><p>The major disadvantage of rapid antigen tests is that they're less reliable than PCR tests, which are conducted in labs and designed to detect the virus' genetic material. Rapid antigen tests may also be less effective in detecting infections in the early stages.</p><p>Still, a growing number of medical experts are backing the mass rollout of antigen tests, as they allow infected people to be identified even before they show symptoms, when individuals have a high viral load and are especially infectious.</p>
Not All Rapid Test Kits Are Reliable<p>Hundreds of rapid COVID-19 test kits have come on the market recently. Many of them are reliable, but not all. In March, for example, Spain sent back two batches of unlicensed Chinese test kits because they were flawed.</p><p>The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has pointed out that even though many tests have been approved for sale on the European market, very few clinical studies show whether they are actually effective.</p><p>The 120 million test kits set to be rolled out by the WHO are the first to meet all of the organization's standards; test makers SD BioSensor and Abbott were granted emergency approval by the WHO last week.</p><p>The manufacturers claim their tests are up to 97% reliable in lab conditions; in the real world, the tests are said to be between 80% and 90% reliable. While this is good, it also means some 20% of patients will receive negative results despite being infected, which could lead to further spread of the virus.</p>
What Are the Alternatives to Antigen Tests?<p>Rapid antigen tests are ideal to test scores of patients quickly, simply and cheaply. Lab-based PCR tests, however, are superior in terms of reliability.</p><p>The PCR test detects genetic material, or RNA, from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Patients are asked to provide a throat swab. One part of the person's genetic material is then synthesized, after which a biochemical process known as agarose gel electrophoresis is used to detect if the sample contains virus RNA. These tests are highly reliable but can only be conducted in specialized labs.</p><p>Serologic testing, on the other hand, detects antibodies in a person's blood that form when the immune system responds to a certain pathogen. This indicates that a person has already been exposed to the virus. While quick test kits are available for this method, these are mainly used for scientific studies.<br></p>
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By Mark Hertsgaard
What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.
Will the White House Turn Green?<p>Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate question of the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has accelerated fossil fuel development. His climate policy seems to be, as he tweeted in January when rejecting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to protect New York City from storm surges, "Get your mops and buckets ready."</p><p>Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with a climate position so weak that activists gave it an "F," called Trump a "climate arsonist" during California's recent wildfires. Biden backs a $2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while slashing emissions—a Green New Deal in all but name. Equally striking, his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has endorsed phasing out fossil fuel production—a politically explosive scientific imperative.</p><p>The race will be decided in a handful of battleground states, five of which already face grave climate dangers: Florida (hurricanes and sea-level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods), and Arizona (heat waves and drought). <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/" target="_blank">Public concern is rising</a> in these states, but will that concern translate into votes?</p>
Will Democrats Flip the Senate, and by Enough to Pass a Green New Deal?<p>With Democrats all but certain to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate will determine whether a potential Biden administration can actually deliver climate progress. Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't. But since aggressive climate policy is shunned by some Democrats, notably Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, Democrats probably need to gain five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.</p><p>Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, are targeting six Republicans who polls suggest are vulnerable.</p><ul><li>Steve Daines of Montana, who denies climate science</li><li>Martha McSally of Arizona</li><li>Thom Tillis of North Carolina</li><li>Susan Collins of Maine</li><li>Joni Ernst of Iowa (bankrolled by Charles Koch)</li><li>John James of Michigan (also a Koch beneficiary)</li></ul><p>Republican Senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the Democratic candidates are physicians—not a bad credential amid a pandemic—who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent funded by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross urges a transition away from oil, though his openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve dims his appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives an 8 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters.</p>
Will Local and State Races Advance Climate Progress?<h4>THE CLIMATE HAWKS</h4><p>Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Washington has long been a graveyard for strong climate action. But governors can boost or block renewable energy; the Vermont and New Hampshire races are worth watching. Attorneys general can sue fossil fuel companies for lying about climate change; climate hawks are running for the top law enforcement seats in Montana and North Carolina. State legislatures can accelerate or delay climate progress, as the new Democratic majorities in Virginia have shown. Here, races to watch include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado.</p><h4>THE CLIMATE POLICY MAKERS</h4><p>Perhaps the most powerful, and most overlooked, climate policy makers are public utility commissions. They control whether pipelines and other energy infrastructure gets built; they regulate whether electric utilities expand solar and energy efficiency or stick with the carbon-heavy status quo. Regulatory capture and outright corruption are not uncommon.</p><p>A prime example is Arizona, where a former two-term commissioner known as the godfather of solar in the state is seeking a comeback. Bill Mundell argues that since Arizona law permits utilities to contribute to commissioners' electoral campaigns, the companies can buy their own regulators. Which may explain why super-sunny Arizona has so little installed solar capacity.</p><p>In South Dakota, Remi Bald Eagle, a Native American U.S. Army veteran, seeks a seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which rules on the Standing Rock oil pipeline. And in what <em>HuffPost</em> called "the most important environmental race in the country," Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, who favors phasing out oil production, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, which despite its name decides what oil, gas, and electric companies in America's leading petro-state can build.</p>
Will the Influencers Usher in a Green New Era?<h4>THE UNCOUNTED</h4><p>The story that goes largely under-reported in every U.S. election is how few Americans vote. In 2016, some 90 million, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly four out of every 10 eligible voters</a>, did not cast a ballot. Attorney Nathaniel Stinnett claims that 10 million of these nonvoters nevertheless identify as environmentalists: They support green policies, even donate to activist groups; they just don't vote. Stinnett's <a href="https://www.environmentalvoter.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Voter Project</a> works to awaken this sleeping giant.</p><h4>THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT</h4><p>Meanwhile, the young climate activists of the <a href="http://www.sunrisemovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunrise Movement</a> are already winning elections with an unabashedly Green New Deal message. More than any other group, Sunrise pushed the Green New Deal into the national political conversation, helping Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey draft the eponymous congressional resolution. In 2020, Sunrise has helped Green New Deal champions defeat centrists in Democratic primaries, with Markey dealing Representative Joe Kennedy Jr. the first defeat a Kennedy has ever suffered in a Massachusetts election. But can Sunrise also be successful against Republicans in the general elections this fall?</p><h4>THE STARPOWER</h4><p>And an intriguing wild card: celebrity firepower, grassroots activism, and big-bucks marketing have converged behind a campaign to get Latina mothers to vote climate in 2020. Latinos have long been the U.S. demographic most concerned about climate change. Now, <a href="https://votelikeamadre.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vote Like A Madre</a> aims to get 5 million Latina mothers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona to the polls. Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayak, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are urging mothers to make a "pinky promise" to vote for their kids' climate future in November. Turning out even a quarter of those 5 million voters, though no easy task, could swing the results in three states Trump must win to remain president, which brings us back to the first category, "Will the White House Turn Green?"</p>
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