Have you ever heard of yacon before? Have you ever seen one? Well, yacon is a humungous perennial plant mainly cultivated for its tuberous roots. Not only is it a valuable vegetable to add to dishes, it also contains a lot of essential nutrients. Yacon can strengthen your immune system, boost digestion, prevent various types of cancer, improve liver health, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and more. Give this article a read to learn more about this amazing vegetable.
What is Yacon?
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Scientifically known as Smallanthus sonchifolius, yacon mainly grows in South America, specifically in the Northern and Central Andes of Argentina and Colombia. Yacon has been grown for thousands of years now and has a wide range of uses. Its syrup and powder form are used as a healthy substitute for sugar, while its root is often eaten raw like a potato. The vegetable contains fructooligasaccharides, a type of indigestible fructose that makes the vegetable so valuable. The leaves of the plant also have organic compounds.
Yacon wasn’t widely popular outside of its native region until recently. Today, it is cultivated in New Zealand and Australia, and its popularity has spread to South Korea, China, Japan and even the United States. Peak harvesting season is when the rhizomes on top of the plant fall back and die. This means that the tube under the ground is ready to eat. One of the greatest things about yucon is that it requires little expertise or farming experience, so people can easily grow it at home. The leaves of the
Nutritional Content of Yacon
Yacon tubers are mainly composed of water and fructooligasaccharides. This means that the majority of the carbohydrate sugars are not digestable, which results in low calories and less sugar absorbtion. The vegetable also helps increase the body’s ability to absorb minerals and vitamins from other foods. Even yucon itself contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, calcium and potassium.
Health Benefits of Yacon
Here are some of the most surprising health benefits of yacon:
- Aids in liver health. The liver is one of the best sources of glucose in the body, so it makes sense that eating yacon will regulate sugar and affect your liver health. Studies show that an adequate amount of yacon may help prevent fat accumulation and maintain proper liver function.
- Helps prevent cancer. Research shows that the compounds in yacon may have some inhibitory effects on the growth of cancer cells. This research is still preliminary, but there’s no harm in adding yacon to the diet.
- Helps improve digestion. Though the body cannot absorb the fructooligosaccharides, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the healthy bacteria in the gut doesn’t find it delicious. Yacon also contains prebiotic materials, which stimulates the health and growth of body’s microflora.
- Helps control cholesterol Apart from being beneficial for diabetes, yacon is also important for those who need control over their cholesterol levels. Research shows that the consumption of yacon may result in lowered lipid levels and prevent bad cholesterol.
- Helps prevent diabetes. Yacon has anti-hyperglycemic effects. Furthermore, the fructooligosaccharides in it means that it can’t absorb simple sugars, causing it to lower glucose production in the liver.
Cautions on Yacon
Even though it’s rare, there are reports of yacon causing allergic reactions, and while the leaves make a good tea, they can be toxic to the kidneys if eaten directly. Other than that, feel free to enjoy yacon and all of its amazing benefits!