The health benefits of eating cocoyam includes improving the chances of dietary success, supporting digestive health, a good source of carbohydrate, improving metabolic efficiency and nutrient absorption, strengthening immune function and supporting blood health. Cocoyam, which is the thick, tuber stalk of the Cocoyam plant is an extremely important part of global cuisines and diets, as it has been for thousands of years. The health benefits of eating cocoyam includes providing strength for good aerobic exercise, improving heart and bone health, improving enzyme function and fighting anemia.
Cocoyam contains a wealth of organic compounds, minerals, and vitamins that can benefit our overall health in a number of ways. One cup (132 grams) of cooked cocoyam has 187 calories — mostly from carbs — and fewer than one gram each of protein and fat. It has a very significant amount of dietary fiber and carbohydrates, as well as high levels of vitamin A, C, E, vitamin B6, and folate, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. There is magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, and copper in it. The plant also provides some protein in your diet, but the amount is almost negligible.
Health Benefits of Eating Cocoyam
1. Keeps Hunger at Bay
The Cocoyam is rather calorie-sparse at 142 calories per 100g – around 13% of the possible calorie content. The low-calorie and high “bulk” of tubers such as cocoyam has made them a staple in diets across the world as they will reduce hunger and make you feel “full” without too many calories. For this reason, Cocoyam can be an excellent food addition for those who are dieting, as one of the hardest parts of losing weight is getting past the feelings of hunger.
2. Digestive Health
The health benefits of eating cocoyam is its role in digestion. The high level of dietary fiber found in Cocoyam (a single serving contains 27% of the daily requirement of dietary fiber) makes it very important for supporting our gastrointestinal health.  Fiber helps to add bulk to our bowel movements, thereby helping food move through the digestive tract and facilitating improved digestion. This can help prevent certain conditions such as excess gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, and even diarrhea. A healthy, regulated gastrointestinal system can greatly boost your overall health.
3. Helps Control Blood Sugar
Although Cocoyam is a starchy vegetable, it contains two types of carbohydrates that are beneficial for blood sugar management: fiber and resistant starch. Fiber is a carbohydrate that humans can’t digest. Since it’s not absorbed, it has no impact on blood sugar levels.
It also helps slow down the digestion and absorption of other carbs, preventing large blood sugar spikes after meals.
4. Cancer Prevention
The health benefits of eating cocoyam plays an important part in the antioxidant activity in our bodies. High level of vitamin A, vitamin C, and various other phenolic antioxidants found in Cocoyam help to boost immune system and help eliminate dangerous free radicals from our system. By eliminating these free radicals, our general health is almost guaranteed. Cryptoxanthin, which is found in Cocoyam, is directly related to a lowered chance of developing both lung and oral cancers.
5. Reduces Muscle Cramps
Consuming high-potassium foods is directly related to decreased muscle cramping and improved muscle strength. Muscle cramps are one of the common side effects of low potassium levels. This happens when an athlete becomes dehydrated and don’t consume enough potassium-rich foods before and after exercise.
6. Reduces Fatigue
Cocoyam is mainly consumed by athletes for long lasting energy. This is because it contains a low glycemic index which is good for athletes.
7. Improves Heart Health
One cup of cocoyam has 0.1g fat and cholesterol, the health benefits of eating cocoyam prevent hardening of the arteries. You can consume it several times without worrying about gaining weight or other health problems related to fatty foods like heart or kidney diseases. Cocoyams can give 19% of the daily required Vitamin E that is required to prevent the risks of a heart attack.
8. Great Carb Source
Starches have received an unnecessarily negative press recently due to the rise of low-carbohydrate diets, Cocoyam – along with other tubers such as the potato and sweet potato – includes a large quantity of starch: non-sugar carbohydrates which provide a large amount of slower-releasing energy.
9. Improves Metabolism and Nutrient Absorption
Cocoyam provides ¼ of your daily B6. Vitamin B6 is one of the less-discussed B vitamins but is essential for the proper digestion and metabolism of food, as well as enzyme production and facilitation. Deficiency in Vitamin B6 can result in poor absorption of nutrients and energy from food, reducing the efficiency of the metabolism. B6 is also associated with the processing, absorption and use of proteins, peptides and amino acids, making it an incredibly beneficial supporting nutrient for other compounds, as well as an essential actor in processes such as muscle growth, recovery and the repair of damaged tissues.
10. Diabetes Prevention
Dietary fiber can also help lower the chances of developing diabetes because it regulates the release of insulin and glucose in the body. If you have a sufficient level of fiber, which Cocoyam provides, then you can manage your glycemic levels and lower your chances of developing diabetes. If you have diabetes, then fiber-rich foods like Cocoyam can help prevent the dangerous spikes and plunges in blood sugar.
11. Vision Health
The health benefits of eating cocoyam is various antioxidants, including beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants can help improve vision as well, by preventing free radicals from attacking ocular cells and causing macular degeneration or cataracts!
12. Reduces Arthritis Symptoms
The health benefits of eating cocoyam is extremely beneficial for overcoming rheumatoid arthritis because low levels of vitamin B6 are related to increased signs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), like more severe pains.
13. Boosts Immune System
Cocoyam plays an important role in the immune system. Vitamin C is found in Cocoyams, which helps to encourage immune system to create more white blood cells, which help to defend the body from foreign pathogens and agents. Additionally vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which moderately prevents the development of conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
14. Improves Mental Health
Cocoyam consists of Vitamin B1 which is also known as thiamine is a crucial vitamin for increasing focus, energy, fighting chronic stress, and perhaps preventing memory loss. Several researches have linked thiamine deficiency to problems of learning and retaining information.
15. Improves Oral Health
The health benefits of eating cocoyam consists of phosphorus, which is essential for both bone health as well as maintaining teeth and gum health. Calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus, they all play an important role in the formation and maintenance of dental health by supporting tooth enamel, jaw-bone mineral density and holding the teeth in place, therefore, these minerals and vitamins can also help heal tooth decay.
16. Improves Hair Health
Cocoyam consists of significant amount of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to decrease environmental damage to your hair. It also promotes circulation to the scalp. Vitamin E oil can retain the natural moisture in your skin, which helps your scalp from becoming dry and flakey. This oil will also make your hair look healthier and fresher. You can use a few drops of vitamin E oil on your hair, especially if it is looking dry and dull.
17. Prevents Bone Loss
Copper present in Cocoyams plays an important role in slowing down bone loss and osteoporosis in older women when taken in combination with other important minerals like zinc, calcium and manganese. Copper has bone-strengthening properties and its collagen-forming qualities encourage strong bones and connective tissues. Cocoyam consists of 0.179 mg of copper, which is 19.89% of the daily recommended value.
A word of caution: Eating cocoyam can lead to kidney stones and gout as well as other health complications if it is not prepared properly by boiling for the recommended amount of time. To absolutely minimize risk, milk or other calcium rich foods should be eaten with cocoyam in order to block oxalate absorption. However, cocoyam is a staple food for many people around the world and should not be considered a high risk food after it is cooked. Cocoyam leaves cannot be eaten raw. They contain a toxin that irritates the throat if not properly cooked. This is why the leaves should be soaked in cold water for about 10 to 15 minutes before they are cooked.