Yacon, Polymnia sonchifolia, also known as Peruvian ground apple, is a native of South America that is a relative of the sunflower. It produces juicy, edible tubers, from which its name, translated as “watery root,” is derived. People in the Andes have enjoyed yacon as a food source for more than a thousand years. Yacon offers certain health benefits.
Blood Sugar Management
Syrup made from yacon root may help lower your blood sugar, according to a study published in the April 2009 issue of “Clinical Nutrition.” Sugarlike molecules in yacon known as fructooligosaccharides, which are derived from a nondigestible carbohydrate called inulin, provide about half the sweetness of sugar without raising blood sugar levels.
Potential anticancer benefits of yacon were demonstrated in a tissue culture study of human cervical cancer cells published in the October 2011 issue of the journal “Fitoterapia.” Yacon compounds inhibited the growth and reproduction of cancer cells and promoted early cell death.
A combination of yacon and silymarin, which is the active component in milk thistle, Garcinia Cambogia Formula , improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels in patients with metabolic syndrome in a study published in the March 2008 issue of “Food and Chemical Toxicology.” Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that increases risk for heart disease and diabetes. In the study, participants consumed 2.4 grams of yacon and 0.8 grams of silymarin a day for 90 days. Results showed the combination supplement improved cholesterol levels and prevented fat accumulation in the liver, leading researchers to conclude that yacon and silymarin may promote healthy heart and liver function.
Fresh yacon has a slightly sweet taste and a crunchy texture similar to that of an apple, while its flavor is close to that of watermelon. South Americans eat the tubers, which can range from yellow to purple, as a fruit, with lemon juice and honey, or they add it to fruit salad. You can also stir-fry, roast or bake yacon as a vegetable. Use yacon leaves, also high in inulin, to wrap other foods as you would cabbage or grape leaves, or brew them to make an herbal tea. Yacon syrup and powdered yacon supplements are also available.