….you need energy in fertility and you can get it from yam. it helps enhance good health and promotes graceful ageeing
Oluwagbemileke Obadina is a food expert who has worked in several food industries before he joined Ayoola Foods Ltd in 2014. He obtained his National Diploma at the Ogun State Polytechnic and then BSc at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.
In this interview with Church Times’ Wilson Adekumola, he reveals the health benefit of yam as food item.
Where and when did you start your career?
I started my career as a food expert with Custard Company after my graduation in 2003. I have worked with Dansa Company where they produce fruit juice. I have also worked in industries where they produce water and yoghurt before I joined Ayoola Foods Limited in 2014 as the head of production department.
From your experience what is the challenge of Food industries in Nigeria?
One of the challenges I will say we are facing is that some of what we produce are imported and when you are importing what is being produced in Nigeria it will reduce patronage for the locally produced item. The cost of production locally is very high. Since I have been here I notice that virtually every day we run on generator and you know the cost of diesel. That alone makes prices of what we produce go up. But those who produce in other climes don’t face this challenge. So, when they import they sell at reduced price and thereby destroy the market for locally produced items.
What is it about food that people do not know?
Elementary knowledge of food says it is what you eat to get energy to grow. But it is beyond that. We eat to be functional. Functional in the sense that not only to give energy but also health value. There are some foods that kill and prevent disease. For instance, poundo yam is high in fibre. It gives energy. Such food helps in digestive system.
Give us a background about yam as food item.
Yam is a food that is good for diabetic management. It has low glycerin index. That is, it will not cause a rapid rise in blood glucose. You know that is the challenge of diabetic patient. It also helps in low density protein. The dietary fibre in yams helps to clean the intestine. It is a source of B-Complex (vitamin). It contains a lot vitamin A and carotene. It is a real source of potassium that is minerals that are good for sense function. It also contains Iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Iron specifically builds blood in the body. So, when you eat yam you get what your body need for iron as key ingredient in blood formation especially red blood cell. According to elementary biology, red blood cell does not last for 90 days. It will break down because of the amount of work they do and you must produce another. You can only get it from the food you eat. To some extent yam is regarded as vegetable but not like the leafy vegetable we have here. Yam also prevents premature greying due to the presence of vitamin B6. It helps ageing gracefully.
What are the different types of yams? What do these types represent?
We have water yam, yellow yam and white yam. All of them are called diascorea specie in botanical name. But the one we use for poundo yam is the white yam (normal yam) called diascorea alata. Basically, all of them have the components of yam.
What is the best way to prepare yam to eat?
I believe the best way to eat yam is to be in pounded form because you will enjoy it as swallow with your best soup. But when it is just boiled it will be somehow too solid to eat with soup. You can see that the pounded one has already reduce the stress of chewing and it helps faster in digestion. Some people do not chew food very well before they swallow it and this is not good enough for the enzyme for digestion.
Does yam have anything to do with fertility?
Well when you talk of fertility you need energy. Every food we eat is for body cell and sex cell and the entire cell need energy to be able to reproduce themselves. If you notice when you are growing from teens to adolescent you see that you consume more. At that age we need a lot of energy to grow. It has not been proved whether yam has anything to do with fertility. But what I know is that you need energy in fertility and you can get from yam.
What is the best time of the day to eat yam?
Yam is a heavy food. For proper digestion yam should be eaten during the day. The time to eat it also depends on your body and the kind of job you are going to do after eating it. But if you want to eat in the evening it should be before 5pm because your system will be less active and all activities in the body will slow down in the night so it is not advisable to eat it at night. Being an energy food, it should be eaten during day so that it can supply the necessary energy you need for work.
Does the back of the yam have any value?
We don’t use the back so I don’t know if it has any special value. The only value it has is that it contains fibre because it is pealed from yam and that fibre also helps digestive system just that the energy will be low. The energy level is concentrated in the yam itself so the peel has less energy. The bark actually contains some cellulose and when you talk about cellulose in some plants is like protein to the yam. It will be good for people that are conscious of their weight or want to reduce the sugar level. I am not promoting the peel anyway.
Some prefer pounded yam to eating poundo yam, how will you react to this?
It has to do with mindset. You even see some people they prefer hand-blended pepper to the one done by machine. Some will even tell you that they prefer moimoi from the leaf to the ones in plastic. They do not want to change the taste they are used to. They are not ready to accept new innovation. But there are a lot of advantages from poundo yam. It takes away the stress of peeling, cutting, cooking and pounding. Poundo yam saves you from expending energy and time to eat your desired pounded yam. Within five minutes your meal is ready. That is enough to nullify your complain.
Poundo yam is special because all you get from yam could be gotten from it within five minutes and it meets up with your required taste. It is quick and safe. Ayoola Foods has been in the food business for the past twenty years and it is not a local company. It has maintained high quality production over the years despite the prevailing circumstances in the country.
The owner of Ayoola Foods does not compromise quality for any reason that is one of the experiences I have had. Only few companies register with HACCP but we are part of them and that is the testament of our love for quality.
How do we prepare poundo yam?
If you want to prepare poundo yam, you will first of all boil water in a pot to a boiling point (100⁰C), and take a little quantity out of that water, put it aside, put your poundo yam flour into the boiling water on the stove, then turn it over and over until you get a smooth substance you desire. Depending on how you want it to be fluffy or hard, you add water to it, cover it and leave it on the stove for 3-4 minutes to steam, then put it down and turn it after then you serve it. Mind you, while preparing it must be on stove.
What quantity will satisfy a family of five?
1kg is okay for five adults. So, you can use that to calculate the quantity you need for your family as 4.5kg can feed fifty people.