The unique market potential for yacón is as a dietetic fiber due to its unique carbohydrate composition. Most other roots and tubers store carbohydrates as starch – a polymer of glucose; yacón stores carbohydrate as fructooligosacaride (FOS) – a polymer composed mainly of fructose. Yacón has a strong potential in international markets as an ingredient in diet, diabetes, and colon-related heath food products.
Dried yacón root contains 50-70% FOS and low proportion of simple sugars (e.g., glucose, fructose and sucrose). The human body has no enzyme to hydrolyze FOS, so it passes through the digestive tract unmetabolized, providing few calories, a marketing strength for dieters and diabetics. Yacón also acts as a prebiotic. The undigested portion of yacón serves as food for “friendly” bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species, in the colon. Clinical studies have shown that administering inulin can increase the number of these friendly bacteria in the colon while simultaneously reducing the population of harmful bacteria.
Yacón syrup, pressed from the roots, has a sweet flavor, and is used as an alternative glucose free sweetener and prebiotic with few calories.
Other benefits noted with FOS supplementation include increased production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, increased absorption of calcium and magnesium, and improved elimination of toxic compounds. Preclinical studies indicate an increase in bone density after consumption of FOS. In addition, the beneficial effects of FOS on the presence of Bifidobacteria suggest an improved absorption of vitamins, such as the B complexes.
Yacón tuber provides an excellent balance of 20 essential amino acids. It has one of the highest levels of potassium found in any plant, and high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. Yacón is a useful sweet food for diabetics.
Yacón is a useful food for managing weight control and obesity. It provides few calories 15-20Kcal/100g, whereas bread typically contains around 50Kcal/100g.
Yacón acts as a pre-biotic and thereby helps the intestines to function efficiently and eliminate toxins and waste products from the body. It strengthens and activates the good bacilli like L. acidophilus and B.bifidum which in turn enhances our immune system and suppresses putrefactive pathogens such as Candida albicans.
Yacón has proven useful in preventing the following conditions…
- Colon disease
- Low immune system
- Poor gastrointestinal health