New Zealand Yam-Oxalis tuberosa Molina



New Zealand Yam Quick Facts
Name: New Zealand Yam
Scientific Name: Oxalis tuberosa Molina
Origin Andes in South America
Colors White, red, yellow, purple (Tuber)
Shapes Claviform to ellipsoid or cylindrical; Length: 3-15 cm; Width: 3 cm (Tuber)
Flesh colors White, yellow, cream, pink, orange, red, purple
Calories 60 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin B6 (16.92%)
Vitamin A (12.38%)
Carbohydrate (9.61%)
Vitamin B2 (9.23%)
Potassium (7.69%)
Health benefits Brain function, Enzymes, Assist vision, Enhance immunity, Treats anemia
More facts about New Zealand Yam
New Zealand Yam (Oxalis tuberosa Molina) is an herbaceous plant that belongs to the Oxalidaceae family. It is also called Kao, Oka, Oca, Papa Roja, New Zealand Yam and Quiba Yam. It is cultivated as a perennial plant in the subtropical or tropical climates for its tuberous root which is a great source of phosphorus, carbohydrates and others.

The plant is a compact, perennial and tuberous, bearing trifoliate, heart-shaped, clover like, green leaves and tristylous, yellow flowers. The edible tuberous root is claviform to ellipsoid or cylindrical with a waxy, crinkled skin whose color ranges between white, red, yellow and purple. Its flesh ranges from white, yellow, cream, pink, orange, red and purple. The plant of New Zealand yam is 20 to 30 cm high which has cylindrical, succulent, yellow, green-purplish red stems upto 25 cm (10 inch) in height.


New Zealand yam is native to Andes in South America. It is not clearly known that from when New Zealand Yam was cultivated. It was one of the oldest crops of Andean. It is a substantial basic crop of Andean peoples.

New Zealand yam was sent to Central Highlands of Mexico in Mid-Late 1700s which became the earliest maintained crop outside the Andes. It is now also cultivated there as papa ratona or papa roja. Though New Zealand yam was exported to the United States and Europe it did not became popular until 1970s.

New Zealand yam was cultivated as early as 1835 in France. Jean Louis who is a French chemist produced the first nutritional analyses of the two varieties in 1850.

Nutritional Value

135 grams of New Zealand yam provides 60 calories. It covers 16.92% of Vitamin B6, 12.38% of Vitamin A, 9.61% of Carbohydrate, 9.23% Vitamin B2, 7.69 % of Potassium, 5% of Vitamin B1 and others. It offers 1.16 grams of protein, 0.214 grams of total fat, 1.14 grams of total dietary fiber and 4.44 grams of total sugars.

Health Benefits of New Zealand yam

New Zealand yam is a great source of phosphorus, carbohydrate, iron and amino acids. Some of the health benefits provided by New Zealand yam are:

  1. Brain function

Vitamin B6 assist in the brain function as well as development. The studies show that deficiency of Vitamin B6 affects the memory function and leads to Alzheimer’s, cognitive impairment and dementia. Vitamin B6 controls the homocysteine levels which are the main causes of heart ailments and neuron damage. Vitamin B6 has a vital role in making norepinephrine and serotonin hormones which controls the energy, mood as well as concentration. Low level of serotonin results to ADHD in children which results in behavior and learning disorders. (1)

  1. Enzymes

Vitamin B6 works with enzymatic systems in the body to assist in the functions of enzymes effectively. There is close relationship between enzymes and Vitamin B6 which adds a sense of proper function of nervous system, builds immunity and relives the arthritis. (2)

  1. Assist vision

Vitamin A prevents macular degeneration which is a major cause for age related blindness. The study shows that the intake of Vitamin C, A, E, copper and zinc reduced the chances of macular degeneration by 25 percent. The Vitamin A eye drops effectively treats the dry eyes. Vitamin A also slows down the development of Stargardt’s disease which is an eye disease which causes vision loss in the young. (3)

  1. Enhance immunity

Vitamin A promotes the immune power to counteract against infections by raising the lumphocytic response agains the disease causing antigens. It ensures the better immunity and promotes the white blood cells activities by keeping the mucus membranes moist. It prohibits the entering of germs and counteract against the infections which exist in the body. It ensures the double protection. (4)

  1. Treats anemia

The low production of red cells is the cause for anemia due to the blood loss and inable to carry oxygen in the blood. Vitamin B2 plays a vital role in these functions and also prevent anemia. Vitamin B2 is essential for the production of red blood cells and steroid hormone synthesis. It transports the oxygen to the cells and also mobilizes iron. The adequate amount of Vitamin B2 helps to prevent the deficiency of riboflavin and also reduces the chances of anemia. The low presence of Vitamin B2 results in shortness of breath, fatigue, problems in exercise and others. The research shows that Vitamin B2 effectively lowers the high level of homocysteine in blood. (5)

  1. Bone health

Potassium prevents the weak bones and chance so fractures and breaks. Potassium forms into citrate which is converted to bicarbonate. The deficiency of potassium is related with low bicarbonate precursors which is essential to counteract acids which are present in the foods such as animal proteins.  The low bicarbonate precursors results in demineralize, porous and weak when one lacks potassium. This increases the chances of fractures and osteoporosis. (6)

  1. Maintain blood pressure

Potassium is an essential component which helps to maintain the normal blood pressure in the body. This reduces the chances of hypertension and heart disease. Potassium also regulates the blood pressure. Potassium acts as a vasodilator which relieves the tension in blood vessels which are the major cause of high blood pressure. (7)

  1. Assist RBC production

Vitamin B2 helps to forma the red blood cells as well as antibodies in the humans which increase the oxygenation and circulation  to different organs of the human body. (8)

  1. Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

Vitamin B1 slows down the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s patients was benefited with an intake of 100 mg supplements in a day. The studies are still going on to find out the mechanism due to which this occurs. (9)

  1. Cardiovascular health

Thiamine helps in the production of acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter that relay messages between the muscles and nerves. Heart depends on these signals. The proper signaling between nerves and muscles helps to maintain the proper cardiac functions as well as healthy heart beats. The study shows that Vitamin B1 effectively treats the heart disease and maintains the healthy function of ventricles and also treats the heart failure. (10)