Just How Many Yams Do You Have to Eat to Conceive Twins?

Last month I wrote a post stating my concern for the growing number of “pregnancy” websites and blogs that promote ways in which women can conceive twins. Some of the advice is dangerous such as advocating progesterone creams and the prescription drug Clomid but other suggestions are just silly such as eating yams. Lots of yams.

According to the number of hits that post received, I think I hit a nerve. Lots of readers found the post not by accident but by searching for, “twins and yams,” or “what do I eat to conceive twins?” Obviously many women out there are strongly considering this as a viable solution to conceiving twins. And it made me wonder, “Well, just how many yams do you have to eat to conceive twins?”  To get to the answer, we need to go back to where this fact/rumor/idea all began.

The rate of fraternal twins (or dizygotic) varies greatly from country to country, culture to culture, ethnic group to ethnic group. Although their rate of twinning has rapidly increased in the past few years along with many other developing countries, the Japanese have the lowest incidence of twinning. (Back in the late 1990s, it was estimated that the Japanese had six twin pairs per every 1,000 births.) On the other hand, the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, West Africa has the highest rate with 45 pairs per 1,000 births. That means that nearly one in 11 Yoruba is a twin! (These days in the United States, one in 33 births results in a twin.)

Researchers have long speculated that it’s the Yoruba diet that can help explain this Herculean statistic. Specifically, it’s the Yoruba’s daily diet of cassava (a type of yam). Although the Yoruba diet also includes plantains, taro, maize and beans, it’s the cassava that contains phytoestrogen, an estrogen compound that increases a woman’s follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and may induce a higher rate of ovulation.

Did you catch that? It’s a “daily diet.” Yoruba females consume a lot of cassava from the cradle to the grave. They eat the yam roasted, broiled, dried, or pounded into a paste to make iyan, a popular staple dish. The dried yam is often ground up and added to boiling water to create a porridge-like dish called amala and then eaten with a stew. They even mill the yam to create flour. But when Yoruba women move away from their villages and into cities where most likely their diets change (probably by including more variety of vegetables and meat, and less yams), their twinning rate decreases! This would further  suggest that the estrogen effect from the yam is immediate rather than cumulative. Still, it would seem that you’d need to eat more than just one serving of the cassava to produce twins. But how much is still unknown.

And then there’s that one last burning question: Has anyone ever even seen a cassava in her local supermarket?

Photo of Double Duty

43 thoughts on “Just How Many Yams Do You Have to Eat to Conceive Twins?

  1. Brooke

    Yes, I’ve seen a cassava in my grocery store. It’s also known as yuca, a brown root that tastes very similar to a potato when baked. It’s rather tasty with a side of guacamole. :)

    Reply
      1. mona

        hello, i found them in a chinese store, fresh and frozen (frozen is easier to make) and it’s called cassava. one lady their told me its the same as the one’s they have in africa, but still don’t know if u can eat it before or after ovulation, its confusing me.

        Reply
  2. Trying

    You can buy it on African online food stores too. No it’s not easy to get hold of, but I’ve bought a few kilos onlines, peeled them and chopped them and put them in my freezer. I’ve read that this same tribe also used eating this cassava yam to help prevent miscarriage in their first trimester. I’ve had two, so frankly, I permit my indulgence, even if it is ‘silly.’

    Reply
  3. Kemi

    Hello,
    Its not cassava, but Nigerian yam! Cassava does not make iyan or amala, YAM does! Cassava makes fufu, garri and others. Yam and cassava are very very different in Nigeria! Regular Nigerian yam is what is responsible for the high rate of twin births.

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Hmmmm….interesting. I’ve also seen other research that suggests other types of yams. Guess I’ll have to fly to Nigeria to find out for myself. Interesting to also note that many researchers say that the real cause has not been medically determined. They just speculate that it’s the yam.

      Reply
  4. ericastrawberrykane

    Love your post ! I think just regular yams ( sweet potatoes) would suffice if you could not get cassavas. I found this post through google. i am also trying to have twins.And coincidentally, I also have a wordpress page.

    Reply
  5. Rotimi

    The yams being refered to is diffrent from Cassava, th toorubas eat Cassava in the form of Garri (roasted Cassavah flour) or Fufu (fermented Cassavah). Yams (Isu) is more commonly eatten it ia a root like cassavah but that is where the similarities end.

    Reply
  6. thenotebook27@yahoo.com

    I read somewhere that if you take Wild Yam Root it can increase your chances of having twins, Im just not sure if its in any way harmful to the body….they sell it @ Gmc.

    Reply
  7. Sophie

    I wouldn’t eat wild cassava roots because they are poisonous, so are wild potatoes. It’s safer to eat the cultivated ones sold in stores. I’m not sure about Wild Yam Root though.

    Reply
    1. Sarah

      All potatoes, tomatoes, and basically any of the tubers we much are poisonous in large, or smaller quantities, as they are members of the nightshade family, that’s why we cook them. It doesn’t matter how wild or tame they are!

      Reply
  8. Want Twins

    Cassava gets a bit of a bad rap when it comes to toxicity. First, there are two types of cassava, sweet cassava and bitter cassava. The bitter cassava contains much higher amounts of cyanide precursors than the sweet cassava. Second, if the cassava is prepared correctly, the toxins are removed. Boiling of sweet cassava is enough to remove the toxins, rendering it safe to consume.

    Reply
  9. marion b

    I grew up in south america where we grew the cassava in our backyard. In the US you can buy Cassava in local asian, hispanic or even in many local groceries stores nowadays. If they have an ethnic refrigerated section they will most likely have it under the better known name YUCA…

    Reply
      1. Lesa Enlow LePage

        I disagree…Obviously these women have more twins than North American women do, and they don’t eat “enormous” amounts of them. I am certain they eat many other things as well, and have a varied diet.

        Reply
  10. Luke&Kylee

    In South America we are known for the growth plantation originally from Africa.and the cassava that is shown from Nigeria, I jumped up when I saw the picture because that’s the exact one I used to eat all the time in my country. Oh and they sell it in Walmart.in some stores, also in the African stores, and I like to believe in the Cuban and Mexican Stores.

    Reply
  11. 7Amara7

    Well, i have grown up eating yams and nothing bad has happened to me. My mom is a twin and so is her grandmother, so if my knowledge of diet and genetics is right, i might just have the twins i would like to have.

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      I’m not suggesting “something bad” will happen. I’m just suggesting it’s not a fool-proof way to try and have twins. Furthermore, some of the other suggestions on conceiving twins on other website are dangerous. That was the point of this post.

      Reply
  12. motherhoodsgood

    I think that it’s “silly” to antagonize women who are trying this method, eating a bunch of vegetables yams or any for that matter isn’t dangerous, in fact I think it’s better that so many women are opting to try something natrual from our earth than drugs. If the idea of trying to trick your body to have twins is what you truly think is silly, which certaintly seems to be where this whole topic/post truly originates from than that is your opinion, personally no ones dreams are silly and there are some women who grew up always dreaming to have twins, I had a twin who did not make it through birth, I have always wondered what it would be like if she was here, there is normally some sort of unexplainable connection between them. There is nothing silly about women wanting to find a way to create that miracle. Perhaps you should check your wording on your “silly” blog next time..

    Reply
  13. Sarah

    I fell in love with cassava in Trinidad and Tobago. We’ve made cassava fries many times. Yummy!! I’m planning to increase the cassava in my diet when we start trying. It’s worth a try.

    Reply
    1. Tise

      I really love to have twins, and am going to start eating the yam and Cassava now, hope and praying is going to work for me…………

      Reply
  14. Ojuolape

    Greetings. The Yoruba are not a “tribe” but a group of many tribes in the region who speak the Yoruba language. We have a high number of twin births due to the consumption of much yam, we eat yam everyday. Yam in the diet on a consistent basis drives up the possibility of producing fraternal twins (thus ovulation two eggs at once, one from each ovary). Wild yam is known to have varying effects on fertility depending upon the dosage (when and how much a woman consumes it). We also venerate the twin Orisa (deities) known as Ibeji. They are fraternal twin children, a boy and girl (Taiwo and Kehinde) and it is believed that giving offerings and respect to Ibeji will result in them blessing mothers and families with twin births. Among the yoruba speaking people, all twins have rites to the names Taiwo (first born) and Kehinde (second born) regardless of their gender. We also have special names for the order of children born after twins in a family.

    Reply
  15. Rani Powell

    Can we remember for clarity, that yam, cassava, and sweet potato are very different. The yams we’re talking about are the white and yellow variety. Cassava is another plant, with benefits of its own, and sweet potato isn’t a yam at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yam_(vegetable)
    Just so y’all don’t run to the store and buy the wrong thing. Thankfully, I live in Jamaica, and we have all three! Strange, though, we have a high Yoruba ancestry, and eat a lot of yam, but I don’t believe we have a high twin rate. Something to consider…

    Reply
  16. Temmy Richard

    After reading most of the blog and comments, I found out that people are mistaken something. So let me make this straight, there are different species of yam there is sweet potato, Cassava which the yoruba tribe in Nigeria with high twins rate call (gbakuda or ege), and yam the yoruba call it isu (made from Amala which can also be boiled, fried or yam pottage).
    Cassava(you can parboiled for 10minutes and fry) should only be taken on the day you ovulate not before because it can delay ovulation or prevent it. And yam can be consumed before ovulation. So don’t mistake cassava(ege) with yam(isu) or sweet potato. I looked at it and found out that truly there is no family without twins in the yoruba ethic group living in Nigeria. And igbo – ora tribe of Oyo state has the highest due to high consumption of yam(Amala (yam flour) and lafu (cassava yam flour). And before you try the cassava for fertility make sure your hormone is okay, another natural way to do that is by squeezing, eaten bitter leaf (ewuro that is the yoruba name)and the extract 3 tps(very dark green) is mix in a glass of water. But lemme me warn you its very bitter, later your mouth will be sweet. You can add some honey provided you are not diabetic. And bitter leaf can also help reduce the sugar level in diabetic patient.

    Reply
    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

      I have reluctantly approved this comment but I urge readers to take this information with a grain of salt. Is this poster a doctor? Probably not. Is this poster a fertility specialist? I doubt it. Just because someone claims to be an expert is by no means assurance that his/her advice is safe or even reliable.

      Reply
      1. Temmy Richard

        I’m not a doctor, I’m not forcing anyone to eat cassava. But just for people to know cassava(taken after ovulation) help to produce progesterone its on the internent, not the normal yam. And bitter leaf help reduce sugar level and regularise hormone, also good for women of all ages and menopause google it.

        Reply
        1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

          Again….proceed with caution. Just because it’s on the “Internet” doesn’t mean it’s true. Or safe.

          Reply
          1. Yolanda

            As long as you peel the skin and boil, fry and you don’t eat it raw. Just as you don’t eat raw meat or chicken. I’ve to use myself as an experiment. I bought the cassava root (not supplement) and I cook for my hubby, I also tasted it 2 small size for the first time, even though I’ve eaten the flake(garri) many times. And my ovulation is actually delayed. I’ve read you wait until ovulation before eating the cassava root, because it can delay or prevent it. I’ll get back to you if it for the result.

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