Yucca root, also known by other names such as soapweed, Joshua Tree, needle palm, Guardian of the Desert, Spanish Bayonet, does not actually refer to a single specific plant, but rather a genus of more 40 different species of plants under the same genus. The most popular species used for traditional medicine is the root of Mohave yucca or Yucca schidigera.
Here Are 15 of The Most Popular Health Benefits of Yucca Root
For a long time, the people inhabiting the areas of South and Central America have included the root of yucca plants in their diet. The starchy root makes it ideal for a staple food, but its medicinal properties are what’s attracting many herbal medicine practitioners and health enthusiasts lately. There has been a growing popularity among the healthy-eating movement in the United States to switch from the simple-sugar laden, carb-heavy potato to the healthier alternative of yucca root.
The edible root of yucca has a rough and rather hard exterior and a starchy interior of creamy white. The root is one of the recent fads among the healthy-eating crowd because of the phytonutrients it contains, such as resveratrol and saponin. Saponin is one of biologically active compounds that has a pretty unusual property: it dissolves both in oil and water. The compound provides a lot of advantages to our health. In addition, polyphenols such as resveratrol and some types of yuccaols are also present in the plants. Polyphenols are ring-like chemical structures of the group phenol that exhibit antioxidant properties and consequently protect us against various harmful diseases.
Yucca root also contains protein, carbs, fiber, minerals, (including magnesium calcium, potassium, zinc, seleniums, and iron), vitamin, (such as vitamin B9, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, vitamin C, and vitamin K), and choline. These rich nutrients make yucca root a powerful food that should be on your plate to boost your overall health.
1. Boosts Cardiovascular Health
The active compounds that are present in yucca root may keep your cholesterol levels in check. As a result, you will be protected from cardiovascular disorders, including atherosclerosis which is the narrowing and hardening of arteries that disrupts blood flow and commonly results in heart attacks.
Consuming yucca root is good to keep the health of your cardiovascular systems because of several factors. The dietary fiber that we can find in yucca root may help us keep a healthy heart by lowering the levels of cholesterol and balancing the levels of fatty acid. Besides, yucca root also contains a relatively high amount of potassium which will relieve the tension and stress in the arteries and blood vessels. Too much tension in the vessels may affect the heart and increase the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and even strokes.
2. Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The Native Americans have understood and taken advantages of the anti-inflammatory properties of the yucca roots for hundreds of years. The people inhabiting the South and Central America have been using yucca roots to treat their arthritic joints in a traditional way.
Modern medicinal research has just recently discovered scientific proofs for the effectiveness of the treatment. In 2006, a study in “Journal of Inflammation” mentioned evidence that the saponins and polyphenols that we can find in yucca root had the potential to alleviate arthritis symptoms. The research studied the effect of yucca root on human subjects suffering from arthritis.
By the end of the study, the researchers concluded that yucca root might be beneficial to use as herbal treatment or prevention of inflammatory disorders. However, more research on the particular subject needs to be conducted because the scientists haven’t made any conclusions on how exactly and which compounds in yucca root that made the treatment possible.
3. Provides Energy
Yucca root has been a source of energy for people living in the dry tropical areas of South and Central America. The root makes an excellent energy source because of the high protein and some carbohydrate content. Yucca root is not difficult to grow in the right climate. Because of this, it has become a cheap energy source, along with other similar root-based plants like sweet potato and cassava.
Replacing the potatoes, rice, or pasta with yucca root in your diet will make you able to get energy while also enjoying other benefits of the root. Because yucca root doesn’t contain trans fat, as long as you process the food in the right way, then you will not gain weight for consuming the root as your staple food.
4. Promotes Weight Loss
If you are trying to lose some pounds, replacing the regular carbs in your diet with yucca root will be a smart decision. Simple sugar like our everyday carbs is very bad at eliminating hunger. Since it creates an imbalance in your glucose levels, you will feel hungry sooner even though your body actually doesn’t need more food intake. On the contrary, dietary fiber in yucca root will help you lose weight by promoting satiety and reducing hunger. This is the reason fiber is on every recommendation of weight loss program.
Because the fiber in yucca root makes you feel full for a longer time, you won’t be controlled by craving then break your dietary restrictions by snacking or eating foods with high calories. Thus, getting your carbohydrate intake from yucca root is a good step for a successful diet.
5. Prevents Diabetes
Yucca root may also be beneficial for diabetic or pre-diabetic patients because of its ability to control the glucose and insulin levels. Keeping your blood sugar level in check will prevent plunges and peaks that can cause diabetes.
There was a study by Turkish researchers on animals as test subjects. The study aimed to understand the effect of Yucca root extracts on diabetes-induced animal subjects. The animals were divided into five groups. There was one control group with no diabetes induction that received constant standard feeding and another diabetic control group that also received normal feeding. But the other three test groups’ diet was supplemented with yucca root powder, soapbark tree powder, and a combination of both.
The result of the study was published on “Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications” in September 2008. The researchers concluded that yucca roots, soap bark tree, and the blend of both supplement powder could significantly reduce the levels of blood glucose and total cholesterol. The supplements also improved insulin and a number of good cholesterols in the blood of the test animals.
6. Improves Digestion
Yucca roots contain dietary fiber which is severely needed by our body to help the digestion function and ease bowel movement. Fiber improves the volume of the stool which makes it easier to move along the digestion tract and out of the body. Despite containing mostly starch, the fiber content in yucca root is high enough that it boosts healthy digestion.
The healthy peristaltic movement boosted by the fibrous content of yucca root will help you to be more regular in your bowel movement and eliminate issues like cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems.
7. Treats Constipation
Constipation is a health condition that can go quickly from annoying to painful. Constant constipation can cause hemorrhoid, the swelling of the veins around rectum and anus that bleeds when hard stool movement creates friction. While sedentary life and lack of water play some part in the forming of the hemorrhoid, constipation is the main reason.
Constipation happens because the stool is too hard or not big enough to pass through the digestive tract and anus easily. Eating foods and drinks that contain a lot of fiber is the best solution to this because fiber can soften and increase the volume of the stool.
8. Reduces Levels of Cholesterols
The fiber in yucca root doesn’t only help increasing satiety and promoting regular bowel movement, but it may also help prevent diseases related to the high level of cholesterols. Fiber is effective at binding cholesterol away and taking it outside the body with the bowel movement.
There have been studies that demonstrated that people who consume yucca root regularly have lower cholesterol levels compared to people whose diets don’t contain any fiber. In addition, saponins can also attach to the dietary cholesterol that is found in your digestive tract. When this happens, the amount of dietary cholesterol absorption into your blood is potentially reduced because some of the cholesterol will leave your body as part of the stool.
9. Is Rich in Folate
Folate or vitamin B-9 is a vitamin that supports our health in a lot of ways. Folate can improve brain function, strengthen our immunity system, and boost our body’s tolerance against stress. In addition, it also helps vitamin B12 to generate red blood cells.
Folate may also improve the health of your eyes and skin. Substituting potatoes and other simpler carbs in your diet will give you healthier and brighter eyes and skin. A serving cup of yucca root contains 14% of the folate that adult men need daily. Breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women need even more folate to support their growth.
10. Cleans Blood from Toxins
Yucca root contains a high amount of saponin, the natural steroid that is conventionally used to create shampoos and foam. Traditionally, folks have used the plant to clean and sanitize the environment. The natural detergent properties of saponin don’t only work outside, but also inside the body. Consuming yucca root may flush away the toxins, harmful microorganisms, and other waste in your body.
11. Prevents Oxidative Stress
The free radicals that attack our body because of our interaction with the modern, toxic environment may bring a lot of damage. Free radicals cause oxidative stress which will result in serious and chronic health conditions. To prevent this damage, we need to consume a lot of antioxidants. Yucca root is rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants will reduce the number of free radicals and combat the harmful effect. When this happens, oxidative stress is prevented.
12. Prevents Disease
Cancer is a degenerative disease caused by mutating cells with damaged DNA. It can be caused by a lot of factors, including exposure to carcinogenic foods or materials, consuming toxic substances, and free radicals, the byproducts of digestion that increase after prolonged exposure to sunlight and toxic substances in the environment, such as cigarette and vehicle smoke.
Since yucca root contains a high amount of multiple antioxidants, it will be one of the best herbal remedies to prevent and fight the threat of disease.
Yucca root will protect your body against disease through multiple methods. The saponin will clean the toxins in your body while destroying free radicals. Vitamin C, the main protective agent in your immune system, will stimulate the activity and production of white cells and fight free radicals. Resveratrol may also provide protection against the free radicals. The compounds will stabilize free radicals and turn them into harmless chemicals.
13. Serves As A Rich Source of Vitamin C
If you want to stay healthy and beautiful, consuming sufficient amount of vitamin C every day is a must.Your cells and tissues need vitamin C to repair themselves and grow. Without enough vitamin C, your immunity will drop. Vitamin C is also an essential antioxidant that fights free radicals. In addition, the vitamin helps us in the process of iron absorption.
While we mostly assume that vitamin C is widely present only in fruits like mangoes, apples, and citruses, or in vegetables like tomatoes, it turns out that even the starchy root of yucca contains a high amount of vitamin C. A serving of one cup of the root has around 42 mg vitamin C, making the root a good vitamin C source.
14. Protects The Skin from Harmful UV Ray
Yucca root also has photoprotective properties that work as protection against the sun. Ultraviolet ray poses danger to the health of your skin. Over exposure to the sun ray won’t only cause sunburn, but also risks to other types of skin damage such as sun spots and even skin disease. Yucca roots may provide a treatment for this problem.
A group of Mexican researchers analyzed the active components that they extracted from the roots of Yucca periculosa, a native species which is very popular in Mexico. The scientists’ goal was to find out whether the three substances they derived from yucca demonstrated any qualities to protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation. At the end of the research, the scientists discovered that three active compounds they extracted from the roots, including resveratrol, naringenin, an another phenolic compound were effective in preventing skin damage caused by UV. The substances even had higherSPF when compared to over-the-counter sunscreen with organic ester and octyl methoxycinnamate as active compounds.
15. Improves Cognitive Functions
Both potassium and folate that are widely present in yucca root are known for the ability to stimulate the flow of blood to the brain. Healthy blood flow to the brain may improve cognitive abilities. This attribute makes some people label yucca root as “brain food.” Improving blood flow and thereby stimulating neural pathways in the brain also effectively prevents cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. To conclude, consuming yucca root regularly is a good way to stay sharp and healthy until our senior years.