Ingredient of the month: Yacon
What is it? A crunchy root with a potential use for diabetes, weight control and gut health.
Where does it come from? Yacon is native to the Andean region of South America with Peru as the greatest producer. It is now also grown in Thailand, Japan, Brazil and New Zealand.
When was it discovered? Although cultivation attempts were made in Europe in the 1930s, it wasn?t until the 1980s that awareness of yacon increased dramatically following its inclusion in the Lost Crops of the Incas publication (National Research Council, USA, 1989).
How is it beneficial? The high-sugar content contained in the root is largely oligofructose, a dietary sugar that cannot be absorbed by the body. It is therefore naturally low in calories and can lessen the blood-sugar peaks from which diabetics suffer. In addition, oligofructose promotes beneficial bacteria in the colon. Yacon is low in fat, contains large amounts of potassium and has a high anti-oxidant content; it also aids the absorption of calcium and vitamins in the body.
What can you do with it? It can be eaten raw or incorporated into the diet by adding it to drinks, syrups, cakes, pickles or stir-fries.