What is Yacon Root?
Ever hear of a diet potato? Yacon Root, a tuber vegetable is sometimes called just that. Native to South America, yacon grows into a small, brilliant yellow flower that resembles a daisy and is in the same family as sunflowers.
The roots are crunch and sweet, believed to deliver a number of benefits, such as weight loss and glucose control.
How to Enjoy Yacon Root
Many prefer the crunchy, juicy sweetness of yacon root raw. For the uninitiated, the first step to enjoying yacon root is to peel back the layers of skin.
The first layer is a darker brown and the inner skin is white, which once peeled, will reveal an appetizing pulp. It should be noted that once you peel a yacon fruit, it should be eaten immediately, as it has a tendency to brown fairly rapidly. Adding citric acid to the pulp can prevent discoloration.
If you want to add yacon root to your meals or to prepare a healthy snack, there are a number of ways you can enjoy this edible root.
Yacon root makes a great, healthy addition to a fruit salad when combined with pineapple and mango. Some people even make yacon root into a jam, making it a convenient way to enjoy its health benefits daily.
Yacon root can also be enjoyed as a desert and baked into a pie, or extracted and made into syrup.
This root is largely comprised of water and an indigestible form of glucose called fructooligosaccharides. To put it simply, potato-like root prevents sugar from rapidly entering the blood stream and is low in calories.
Like potatoes, yacon root isn’t exactly loaded with vitamins, however, it’s acts an auxiliary food, increasing the body’s potential for absorbing vitamins and minerals. Despite it’s non-existent vitamin count, yacon root is rich in certain minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
Benefits of Yacon Root
Yacon root has begun to attract attention due to its reported health benefits. While more rigorous scientific research and human studies is needed to support these claims, animal and preliminary studies are promising. Listed here are some of the claims associated with yacon root.
1) Regulates Blood Sugar
Those who suffer from Type II diabetes, pay attention: yacon root may be a help addition to your diet and diabetes management. As we’ve discussed, yacon root works as an auxiliary food and helps to keep glucose levels in check.
In terms of regulating blood sugar, yacon root prevents the body from absorbing simple sugars. This greatly helps out the liver, lending a hand in lowering fasting glucose rates.
Currently, there is more research being done to determine whether yacon root can help increase insulin sensitivity.
2) Lowers LDL Cholesterol
Yacon root may also help to regulate cholesterol levels. Preliminary studies have found that yacon root overall helped to the accumulation of LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, as it is more commonly referred to.
By preventing the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, you help keep your heart healthy and prevent the development of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
3) Regulates Blood Pressure
In general, it appears from preliminary studies, that adding yacon root to your diet may be good for those concerned about their blood pressure levels and overall heart health.
The rich potassium levels contained within yacon root improves the health and condition of the blood vessels by ensuring they are flexible and relaxed, allowing the easy flow of blood. This greatly reduces the stain placed upon the heart.
When there is easy blood flow to and from the heart and ensuring the proper oxygenation of the organs. Improving blood flow decreases the chances of developing atherosclerosis and prevents the onset of stroke and heart attacks.
The high levels of potassium found within yacon roots partners up with sodium to maintain the balance of fluid in the tissues and cells.
4) Improves Digestion
These days, dozens of different types of probiotics line grocery store shelves, helping to ensure healthy digestion. But are you aware of prebiotics and their role in helping the proliferation and micro flora in our gut?
Yacon root is considered a prebiotic, which means it helps feed the micro flora in our gut, boosting the efficacy of probiotics bacteria. When things are running smoothly in the gut, our body is more effective at absorbing nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from food.
Another benefit to prebiotics and probiotics is that it helps to prevent gastrointestinal distress, such as bloating and constipation. With that said, yacon root may be a more gentle and natural alternative to constipation drugs on the market, when it comes to mild constipation.
The prebiotic effect of yacon root may also help prevent the development of more serious gastrointestinal conditions, such as colon cancer and ulcers.
5) Potential Weight Loss
The jury is still out on this claim. Some believe that eating yacon root will help increase weight loss because it makes you feel full while being low in calories.
Yacon root differs from other tubers because it is not loaded with starch. Another theory is that due to its rich fiber content, yacon root has a slightly laxative effect. It should be noted though that taking laxatives is not a healthy way to lose weight and other weight loss alternatives should be considered.
6) Prevents Fatty Liver
Some preliminary studies have found that eating yacon root may help to boost the functioning and overall health of the liver. As previously mentioned, yacon root helps to regulate glucose levels, which helps lighten the load of the liver’s job responsibilities.
One study found that when yacon root was taken in conjunction with milk thistle, it reduced fat accumulation in the liver, improving the overall health of the organ.
7) Possible Cancer Prevention
Some studies have found that yacon root may have anti-cancer agents that prevent the mutation and spread of cancer cells by activating the process of apoptosis. Yacon root may be especially beneficial for preventing the development of colon cancer, skin cancer, and blood cancer.
8) Alternative Natural Sweetener
When extracted and turned into syrup, yacon root can be used as an alternative sweetener. This is especially beneficial for type II diabetics or those trying to shed a couple pounds. Yacon root especially works well as a sweetening agent and in coffee and tea.
9) Antifungal Properties
The leaves of the yacon plant have antifungal properties, making it effective in treating such fungal infections as athlete’s foot.
Before consuming yacon root, please consider the following:
- Discuss using yacon root as a treatment or weight loss aid with your physician to ensure maximum safety.
- Yacon root and yacon syrup in large amounts may have a laxative effect and cause diarrhea. Some people who have consumed a small amount of yacon syrup have reportedly experienced diarrhea and gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Some people may experience an allergic reaction when consuming yacon root.
- Some evidence indicates that yacon root tea, a tea recommended to diabetics, may damage the kidneys. While there is not a lot of evidence supporting this claim, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid drinking tea made from yacon leaves.
- There is currently no research indicating the safety of yacon root and yacon extract for children, pregnant women, or women who are nursing.