The Peruvian Andes are a source of supplies with excellent health benefits. Consumed for centuries, many of these ingredients had a special connotation and were incorporated into religious festivities by the ancient inhabitants of the region, as the Incas. Such is the case of yacon.
What is yacon?
Yacon or Smallanthus sonchifolius, is a tuber that grows in the temperate zone of the Andes, between 1,000 and 3,200 meter above sea level. Its stems can measure between 2 and 2.5 meters and, as it is a plant that can be maintained without extreme care, it can be found in the size (thet can weight up to a kilo), but they differ in their texture and flavor.
How can I consume yacon?
The most common way to ingest yacon in its natural state. Is very easy to consume it raw, since it has a sweet flavor and juicy, fresh ad crunchy texture, very similar to an apple. In fact, its name is already a sign of this particularity, since it derives from the Quechua word “yaku” wich means “water”.
Other ways to consume yacon are cereal, flakes and in powder or syrup as an ingredients in other preparations. Yacon powder or flour is obtained after drying and pulverizing the roots, while the syrup is the concetration of its juice.
The benefits of yacon
Yacon is considered a superfood due to its high amount of nutrients that make it beneficial for health. It is know to be rich in fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a type of soluble fiber that is not digested by the body and gives it its sweet taste.
These compounds pass through the digestive tract without being broken down because the body does not have the capacity to do so, therefore it is not assimilated. However, on its way, it enhaces the growth of good bacteria in the intestines and is not converted to glucose. Hence, the fame of yacon as a natural sweetener.
Other reasons to consume this tuber are:
- It prevents aging due to its antioxidants.
- It helps control weight due to its low starch and high fiber content.
- It improves intestinal health as it is a natural prebiotic.
- It lowers cholesterol and it helps manage diabetes due to the hypoglycemic properties of its leaves.
- It stimulates hemoglobin by containing iron.
Yacon and the keto diet
Yacon syrup is an ingredient in some products consumed by people following a keto diet. It is a natural sweetener that contains low amounts of simple sugars such as fructose and glucose, keeping calorie intake low, in addition to having little carbohydrate in its composition.
It should be noted that, although yacon can be part of a keto diet, the ideal is not to consume it daily but, rather, as an occasional snack or if there is a craving for a sweet food. If the intake is very constant, it can cause mild digestive disorders.
In addition to yacon syrup, other sweeteners that can be incorporated into a keto diet include stevia, sucralose, erythritol, xylitol, and monk fruit.
Where to buy yacon?
It is becoming easier to access yacon and its derivatives. In supermarkets you can find the tuber in its natural state and in specialized stores you will find products such as flour and syrup.
Yacon powder from Peruvian Nature is perfect to add to smoothies, juices and salads, or to prepare desserts. In addition, you will be promoting fair trade with local producers, paying more attention to the social and environmental criteria of the food industry and contributing to sustainable development.
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