You may not have heard of ube, also known as purple yams, but these vibrant tubers are packed with a ton of delicious benefits for our health. Take a look to learn more about what they are, how they taste, and all the nutritional perks.
What Is Ube?
Native to the Philippines, these purple yams are similar to regular orange sweet potatoes or yams, but have an even sweeter and slightly nutty flavor. According to the USDA, eating just 100 grams of the root veg provides us with helpful nutrients like 4 grams of fiber, 20 mg of calcium, 12 mg of vitamin C, and 100 IU of vitamin A.
Purple Yam (Ube) Benefits
Although that might not seem like a lot of vitamin C, the daily recommended intake is only about 65 to 90 milligrams. Considering most of us are trying to keep our immunity levels high during cold and flu season (and the ongoing pandemic), getting more vitamin C from our food is always a good thing. (Psst: It’s great for keeping our muscles strong as we age, too!) As for vitamin A, it’s essential for protecting our lungs while also working with calcium to ward off bone loss.
We all know that fiber can help with our digestion, but purple yams have another gut health benefit. Like most starchy vegetables, it’s got quite a few carbs (27 g), but those are complex carbohydrates. Studies show these are resistant to digestion and increase the number of good gut bacteria.
The real powerhouse of purple yams, however, is the flavonoid anthocyanin. Like blueberries (and their cousins, bilberries), this is what gives them that vibrant color. It also helps balance blood sugar for those with type 2 diabetes, according to Diabetes.co.uk. The organization says more research needs to be done, but claim the flavonoid has shown promising results in warding off eye health problems by strengthening the blood vessels in retinas, too.
A review of several studies found that anthocyanin work as an antioxidant to fight off and restore oxidative stress on our brain cells. Research from the European Journal of Nutrition backs that up by observing improvements in verbal fluency, short-term memory, and long-term memory in older adults given anthocyanin-rich supplements over a 12 week period.
And if that still isn’t enough healthy benefits, anthocyanins like those found in purple yams have also been shown to activate cancer-fighting enzymes in our bodies that kill off the bad cells. Not too shabby for a humble root vegetable!
Where to Buy Purple Yam
You’ll have to check your local grocery stores and Asian markets for fresh ube to roast or bake, but it’s easily found in powdered form (Buy on Amazon, $15.99) online.
Unlike purple yam extract, which can often include a lot of extra dyes and sugars, powdered purple yam is usually 100 percent dehydrated yams. That means it can provide the same health benefits, plus add lovely sweet flavor and bright color to smoothies, baked goods like cake, or whatever else your imagination can come up with!