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.

Industry insights from NBJ
Sports nutrition weight-loss sales by category

Sports/energy beverages

Nutrition bars

Low-carb foods**

Sports nutrition supplements*

Weight-loss liquid meal supplements

Weight-loss pills

* Sports powders/formulas (mostly protein), pills, prepared drinks

**Not including low-carb barsand meal replacements

Source: Nutrition Business Journal, NBJ's Sports Nutrition & Weight Loss Report 2005; NBJ March 2005 issue;
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