If you like to add sweetener to your food, try something I learned of while traveling in the mountains of Peru. It's a fruit-like vegetable called yacon. In Peru it's called the "jewel of the Andes". Ancient Incas used to eat the roots for endurance and to keep from getting thirsty. Modern investigations of this traditional use have found that yacon is good for diabetics. Another thing I like about yacon is that it has inulin, a prebiotic-like compound that helps you digest other foods and enhances immunity because it promotes beneficial bacteria in your intestines.
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Yacon is a plant that is indigenous to the Andes Mountains in South America. It is renowned for the sweet taste of its roots, and it is commonly referred to as Peruvian ground apple. It has a flavor similar to jicama, or the Mexican turnip, although yacon sweeter and unrelated to jicama. It is, however, related to the sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke. The juicy roots of the yacon are often used by South American laborers as refreshment during work.
Yacon can be turned into any number of foods and sweeteners. The plant is delicious simply sliced and eaten raw, but can also be ground into a powder or eaten as syrup. Many consider the syrup to be an even sweeter version of honey or molasses. It is so sweet, in fact, that it cannot be substituted 1:1 for other sweeteners. Instead, you will generally have to use less yacon. The roots of the yacon plant contain fructooligosaccharides. These sugars are not digestible. So, although they taste very sweet, they don't add a lot of calories to the diet. The specific sugar that is found in yacon is called inulin, and ingesting it doesn't result in the blood sugar spikes that are seen after eating table sugar. This makes yacon a healthy sweetener for diabetic patients. One study even found yacon to have anti-diabetic effects.
You can get yacon syrup at specialty health food stores, and it's also available online from places like HERE .
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In fact, yacon has been shown to be a way to naturally lose weight as well. One study found that obese women were able to lose a significant amount of weight simply by eating yacon syrup every day. Yacon has also been shown to helpful in treating hypertension and lowering cholesterol.
Yacon is also thought to be very healthy for the digestive system. Research has found that it increases colonic mobility. Since it is low in calories, it thus could be used as a healthy treatment for constipation, especially in diabetic patients. Inulin is also known for its prebiotic effects. This means that yacon can help good bacteria in the digestive system grow.
Yacon is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to rid the body of dangerous free radicals, which can cause cellular damage and increase one's risk for cancer. In fact, oxidative damage plays a role in many of the most dangerous diseases today. Thus, consuming higher levels of antioxidants can help protect against cancer, heart disease, muscle degeneration, and diabetes.
The benefits of yacon are many, and it is gaining attention at an opportune time. Our society is suffering from an epidemic of obesity, which leads to type II diabetes. Yacon seems to be an ideal sweetener for today's age, as it offers the rich sweetness of other sugars without the calories. Its versatility also allows it to be enjoyed in a number of different forms (e.g. raw, powder, syrup). Try yacon today and see how great healthy can taste!
DISCLAIMER: The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis, or recommended treatments. None of the statements made on this website have been reviewed by the FDA. Any product mentioned is not meant to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or taking any medication, ask your doctor first before taking these or any other herbal remedies.
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