Those who think that sweet is not good for health, probably have not come across yacon. Indigenous to the Peruvian Andes, yacon is essentially a root vegetable. It is well-known for its sweet potato-shaped root. You can simply peel the root and consume it raw. This tasty potato-like root can also be baked and roasted, which can be added in a variety of recipes. The root that tastes slightly like a pear can also be juiced into a syrup.
Did You Know?The Incas often referred yacon as water root due its juicy nature and has long been used for its thirst-quenching ability.
Low in calories, yacon root is nutritious and popular as a sweet, super-healthy treat in South America. Yacon root is also sold in the form of powder and capsules. Consuming yacon root may provide the following health benefits:
Taking yacon root extracts is a natural way to improve intestinal health. This is because it is a good source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) (plant sugars) that have bowel-stimulating quality, which may help relieve constipation. It tends to decrease bowel transit time, which may help overcome constipation. FOS may also aid in preventing travelers' diarrhea.
Cancer Fighting Potential
Preliminary research suggests that yacon root may contribute in promoting colon health. The study that was conducted in 2012 and published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology observed that extracts of yacon root may inhibit the growth of chemically-induced colon cancer.
Contains Anti-aging Ingredients
Regular intake of yacon syrup obtained from the roots of yacon plant, may provide anti-aging benefits. This is because yacon syrup is a good source of antioxidants, and moreover, contains significant amounts of potassium. Antioxidant-rich foods that scavenge on free radicals have been proven to improve longevity and enhance overall well-being. The increased potassium content in yacon root can also help regulate blood pressure levels.
Regulates Blood Sugar
In South America, yacon root has been a traditional remedy to reduce blood sugar in diabetics. The yacon syrup derived from the root may help in regulating blood sugar. There are certain compounds in yacon root that tend to display blood sugar lowering activity, as found out through animal studies. So, although yacon root is sweet, it can be used as a diabetic food. Its sweetness is due to the presence of FOS which remain undigested; hence they do not get absorbed by the body. That is why, sugar in yacon root does not cause blood glucose levels to rise. Diabetic patients can use it as a sugar substitute and add it in tea or coffee without worrying about blood glucose levels.
Promotes Liver Health
Yacon root exerts liver protecting effects, as observed through one study. The root in combination with silymarin (compound obtained from milk thistle) was found to lower the accumulation of fat in patients suffering from metabolic syndrome. The study was conducted in 2008 and published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology.
As we know, for better digestion, it is necessary to have adequate gut bacteria. FOS is said to play a key role in improving growth of beneficial bacteria as they act as prebiotics. Prebiotics are like food for beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. Hence, consumption of prebiotics, such as FOS, contributes in increasing the population of beneficial bacteria, thereby ensuring optimal digestive health.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol patients may benefit by regularly eating yacon root. The high FOS content in yacon root is said to be responsible for its cholesterol-lowering properties.
Potential Weight Loss Aid
Yacon syrup may help in losing weight. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition observed that when premenopausal obese women with insulin resistance were put on doses of 0.29 g and 0.14 g for 4 months, there was a noticeable reduction in their body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index. Moreover, LDL-cholesterol levels, fasting serum insulin levels, an indicator of insulin resistance, also reduced significantly. This study suggests that taking yacon syrup for an extended duration may help to promote weight loss.
Protects Bone Health
Yacon root is believed to facilitate absorption of calcium and magnesium, two key nutrients that play a crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy bones. In fact, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food regular intake of yacon root may even retard bone loss, as it is found to influence mineral absorption positively. The study is promising and indicates that yacon root has the potential to safeguard bones from osteoporosis as well as reverse this condition.
Possible Side Effects
Excessively consuming yacon root or its syrup, just because it is delicious can cause few bothersome side effects. The root is also naturally rich in inulin fiber; hence, too much of fiber intake is likely to cause digestion problems. So, indulging in this sweet, guilt-free snack can cause stomach distress that may manifest in the form of bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. Simply put, digestive discomfort is a given if you are going to have too much of yacon root.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.