Chinese Yam - Wai Shan
Chinese Yam - Wai Shan

Chinese Yam (Dioscorea polystachya) - 山药 (Shan Yao)

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Chinese yam has two common Chinese names, wai shan and shan yao. Shan yao translates literally to "mountain medicine," indicating its commonality in Asian culture as a health product. This dried variety is commonly used in herbal medicine but the fresh variety can be used in stir-fry, soups, or even in dumplings. Dried Chinese yam is commonly found in formulas for the stomach and lungs with modern studies showing it to help reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and dilating blood vessels (which improve blood flow). These tubers have a multitude of health benefits and definitely live up to their colloquial name.