By now, white sugar has been blacklisted from most of our diets, and the push for suitable alternatives is giving way to a slew of more lower-calorie and/or more natural sweeteners, like stevia, monk fruit, and good ol’ honey. You’ve probably never heard of yacón, but this low-glycemic sweetener could be a smart addition to your pantry. Often called “the apple of the earth” in Peru, yacón looks like a potato in its original form and tastes like an apple. It’s got half the calories of regular sugar and boasts some impressive health benefits. Here’s what Julie Morris, executive chef for Navitas Naturals, had to say about the superfood.
What kind of health benefits does yacón syrup offer?
Often used in Peru in diabetic-sensitive diets, yacón provides the sweetness needed in recipes at a very low-sugar cost (1 tablespoon contains 20 calories). Aside from a low glycemic index, yacón's sugars are primarily composed of a component called “FOS,” short for fructooligiosaccharides. FOS is a type of low-calorie, non-digestible carbohydrate that tastes like sugar on the tongue, but is not processed as sugar by the body. It even offers health benefits such as promoting healthy bacteria balance in the digestive tract. Add in trace minerals like phosphorus and potassium as well as 20 amino acids, and you're left with an extremely beneficial ingredient, as far as sweeteners go anyway.
How would you incorporate yacón into a healthy diet?
Yacón syrup is an easy swap anywhere that another liquid sweetener, like maple syrup, honey, or agave, would be used. It's about 75% as sweet as most other syrups, but adds in supportive flavor notes of apple and tea which enhance taste. It's especially delicious when paired with fruits; warm spices such as cinnamon; nuts like walnuts; whole grains; and even savory foods like root vegetables. Drizzle it on top of oatmeal, stir into tea, whisk into a salad dressing, use as a roasted vegetable glaze, or top a healthy dessert.
If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, try these yacon recipes from Navitas Naturals.