A Sweet Way To A Healthier You

Our insatiable desire for sweet foods has undoubtedly been one of the contributing factors to the growing number of those suffering from obesity and diabetes.  While cutting back on refined cane sugar and other high glycemic sweeteners is a necessary first step, judiciously using alternative superfood sweeteners that offer additional benefits is strongly recommended.  One such promising sweetener comes from the indigenous Peruvian superfood called Yacon and holds the promise of satisfying your sweet tooth while positively impacting your health. 

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a sweet tasting, tuberous root vegetable that has been grown in the Andes of South America for thousands of years.  Also known as the Peruvian Ground Apple or Sunroot, it has been prized since the Incan civilization for its slightly sweet flavour and pleasant crisp taste.  As such it has been traditionally eaten as a healthy and delicious snack and made into a variety of local dishes such as drinks, condiments and syrups as well as enjoyed fresh with a taste similar to freshly diced jicama or Mexican yam, only sweeter with floral notes.

A close relative of the Sun Artichoke, the tuber contains mostly water and compounds known as FOS or Fructo-oligosaccharides. Fructo-oligosaccharides are a type of dietary sugar that the body does not metabolize and therefore does not elevate blood glucose levels making it ideal for those on any weight management program as well as those with diabetes. These indigestible carbohydrates are also known as prebiotics and support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. As a prebiotic, Yacon aids in supporting gastrointestinal health and in maintaining the optimal growth and balance of beneficial bacteria.   In being an important source of fuel for the bacteria in the colon, FOS influence the production of short chain fatty acids, which are the beneficial by-products produced during anaerobic fermentation of dietary fibres and resistant starches such as FOS in the colon.  These anti-inflammatory microbial metabolites have been shown to positively influence the physiology and the metabolism of the colon in numerous ways.
While there is much research on Yacon showing its many benefits as a prebiotic root vegetable in relationship to its positive impact on overall colon health particularly in the support of beneficial bacteria, it has been also been shown to assist in increasing colonic transit time, increasing mineral absorption as well as providing a host of protective antioxidants. 

Additional research suggests that Yacon is a novel functional anti-obesity food able to support weight loss and decrease blood glucose levels, thus being an important dietary adjunct in diabetes and insulin resistance.  One recent study on Yacon syrup demonstrated significant weight loss, particularly in the waist circumference and body mass index of obese pre-menopausal women.  As such, Yacon Syrup may prove to be an important healthy sweetener in light of the ever-increasing health concerns of colon cancer, obesity and diabetes. 

Yacon root is available as dried slices, powder and as a delicious, healthy sweetener known as Yacon syrup.  This sweetener is a safe and health conscious, low calorie alternative to conventional sweeteners with a lower glycemic index compared to honey, agave, maple syrup or refined cane sugar.  It is a wonderful sweetener for all beverages and recipes.  Dried slices can be enjoyed as a snack or added to salads, smoothies and other superfood recipes, while the powder has endless applications and can easily be added to drinks, smoothies, salad dressings, yogurt, cereal and more.

A staple of the traditional Andean diet, the Yacon tuber is a remarkable food with a wide range of benefits.  While it may not be the miracle magic bullet that will solve all your health issues, as no one food is, it certainly can be included in a health conscious plant-based diet as an alternative sweetener that can be used in a myriad of recipes.

Renita’s Blood Sugar Balance Fat Blast Tea
This tea is the ultimate combination of superfoods to provide calm, zen-like, grounded energy, with simultaneous blood sugar balancing ability, stress reduction, antioxidant protection and metabolism boosting potential.  The matcha, cinnamon and cayenne pepper are all thermogenics, while holy basil reduces cortisol (your stress hormone).  Holy Basil along with cinnamon makes the perfect blood sugar balancing pair. 
10 oz. of water
1 tbsp. of Organic Traditions Holy Basil Tea
1 tsp. of Organic Traditions Ceremonial Matcha
1-2 tsp. of Organic Traditions Yacon Gold™ Syrup
¼ tsp. of Cinnamon Powder
Optional: Cayenne Pepper
Preparation: Boil the Holy Basil tea.  Strain.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Whisk 1 tsp. of Matcha tea in a small amount of holy basil tea.  Combine all of the ingredients together and stir.  Drink this tea morning or afternoon. 


Renita Rietz is a health and nutrition writer and speaker who educates on the phytotherapeutic potential of indigenous foods and plants for prevention and regeneration.                                                                         renitarietz@gmail.com or connect on Facebook.

Categories: Food & Nutrition