If you like your sweeteners natural—and you should!—there’s a new option popping up at smoothie shops and health food stores. It’s called yacon (pronounced yah-CONE), and its bonus health benefits may surprise you.
An ancient staple in South America’s Andes Mountains, yacon is a sweet potato-like root vegetable that tastes like an apple. It’s primarily composed of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a tongue-twisting term for a natural sugar that tastes sweet but is indigestible. That means yacon, often enjoyed in syrup form, can add sweetness without piling on calories or spiking blood sugar.
It’s also an excellent source of prebiotics that nourish the good bacteria your body needs for healthy digestion, and its fiber content may keep you feeling fuller longer, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Research is emerging on its potential to help reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol and support liver health.
Want a taste? For sweetening smoothies and other beverages, we like Sunfood’s organic yacon syrup ($20) or Schinoussa’s ($11.79), an amber-colored liquid similar in texture to maple syrup with a caramelized sweet potato taste. We’re also keen on Navitas Naturals’ organic, dehydrated yacon slices ($8)—they taste like dried apples and can be snacked on or added to trail mix, granola or salads.
Are we rooting for this root? You bet!