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Originally published October 3 2005

Yacon tuber offers a low-calorie, healthy snack to satisfy your sweet tooth

by Dani Veracity

Children living in the Andes have considered raw yacon a "special treat" for centuries, and because of its clean, crunchy, refreshingly sweet flavor, yacon can be a "special", yet healthy treat for anyone. What does yacon tuber taste like? Imagine a fresh-picked apple tinged with a mildly sweet, watermelon-like flavor, writes the National Academy of Sciences. Sounds good to me!

However, the best part is that yacon tuber is actually a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Yacon stores carbohydrates in the form of inulin, rather than glucose, which means a world of a difference for diabetics and dieters alike. You see, the human body lacks the enzyme necessary to metabolize insulin, so the substance that gives yacon its sweetness passes through the digestive tract unmetabolized. In other words, yacon tuber has a very low glycemic index and very few calories.

As if that's not enough, the tuber can give your body a great balance of 20 amino acids. It is very high in potassium (having one of the highest levels found in any plant) and also high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron, according to the Au Natural website. What else is in this refreshing, low-cal snack? When scientists analyzed fresh yacon tuber, they discovered the tubers consist of 69 to 83 percent moisture, 20 percent sugars (mostly inulin) and 0.4 to 2.2 percent protein. However, when tubers are eaten in their dried form, these figures shift to 65 percent sugars (again, inulin), 6 to 7 percent protein, 4 to 7 percent ash, 4 to 6 percent fiber and 0.4 to 1.3 percent fat. Pay special attention to the figures for the dried form of tuber if you're looking for a healthy, low-cal snack, because dried yacon tuber provides a great alternative to potato, tortilla or even apple chips.

The healthiness of yacon doesn't end there. Unlike olestra -- which many people say upsets your digestive tract and causes stomach cramps, gas and diarrhea -- yacon tuber is actually good for your intestines. Inulin helps keep intestinal flora in balance (the good bacteria that live in your intestines to stop the bad bacteria from spreading). Healthy and strong intestinal flora mean healthier blood, improved skin complexion, enhanced digestion and much more. You simply can't go wrong with yacon tuber.

From Columbia and Venezuela to northwestern Argentina and everywhere in between, this distant relative of the sunflower remains a traditional favorite. In Ecuador, yacon tuber is a holiday favorite on the Day of the Dead, and Brazilians call yacon tuber their "diabetic potato." In some parts of the Andes, almost everyone has yacon in their family gardens, according to the National Academy of Science. But now, thanks to the internet, you can enjoy the tasty, healthy flavor of yacon tuber, no matter where you live. Let's take a look at all the yacon products available for your wellness and enjoyment:

Dried, Peruvian Yacon Slices -- Perfect for that "sweet tooth-attack" snack. Nature's First Law uses low-temp driers to ensure organic yacon slices with high nutritional quality. Available from

Dried, Peruvian Yacon Slices Infused with Elderberry Juice -- Offer everything that the original yacon slices offer, plus an extra boost of antioxidants and a nice berry flavor. Available from

Yacon Syrup -- It tastes like molasses, but it's made from yacon tuber, so it's surprisingly low-calorie. Available from

So go ahead and "indulge" in this guilt-free snack!

(Note: Truth Publishing earns no money from your purchase of these yacon products. These are 100% independent, unbiased recommendations, consistent with our editorial policy of never accepting money from the companies we cover.)

Works Cited:

Au Natural. "Superfoods." 2003.

National Academies Office of International Affairs. Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. Washington, D.C: National Academy: 1989: http://www.nap/edu

O'Chauvin, Lucien. "Home-grown: Peruvian Beverages Look for a Local Niche." Beverage World. 15 Jun 2004: 14.

"Yacon: Wellness from Peru." Amizonas. Aug 2002.


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