Yacón – the latest, low-glycemic sweetener to reach my radar.
I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t yet had the pleasure of experimenting with it because I’m still so smitten with Coconut Sap. But, when you’re on a mission to educate, you can’t get hung up on favorites, so here I share what I have just learned:
Yacón is a root vegetable and as you can see by the image, it looks a lot like a sweet potato. It's native to the Andes mountain region of South America and according to Wikipedia, the flavor and texture is similar to jicama, but sweeter. The sweetness is derived from inulin. Now we’re getting somewhere!
Inulin is a soluble fiber that, not only aids absorption of nutrients and acts as a prebiotic (using “friendly” bacteria in the gut to promote health and digestion), it also offers “sweet” to the palate without affecting the blood sugar at all!
In simplified terms, inulin (and therefore Yacón) provides an indigestible form of fructose – so we get the sweet flavor, but the sugar cannot be metabolized and so never enters the blood stream. Now that’s something to get excited about!!
Okay, I’m definitely interested now. So I went shopping! Yikes – not cheap! As always, I endeavor to find products that are in the most unprocessed state possible and this often equates to raw, in which (by definition) processing temperatures are kept below 104 -118°F. This is important because it maintains the natural properties without risk of altering the chemical makeup or destroying important enzymes. So far, those I’ve found that say “raw” are processed at much higher temperatures (anywhere from 140°F to 250°F).
Additional discrepancies I found, included the statement that it is slightly sweeter than sugar (therefore use about 25% less) and that it’s slightly less sweet than sugar (no factor provided). Huh? Furthermore, there was quite a disparity in pricing, ranging from $1.40 per ounce (2 tablespoons) to $6.04 per ounce (ow!) At that price, I would recommend using 50% of the sweetener in a recipe (I do that anyway) with half Yacón and the other half Stevia or Erythritol, for a zero-glycemic treat. I didn't mention my coconut sap here because it is not zero glycemic (although it is quite low).
So where does this leave us? Yacón syrup or powder offers the calorie and glycemic restricted diet a safe and sweet alternative and hopefully, we will be able to increase the world supply (to lower the cost) without genetically (or otherwise) modifying it to a less than desirable state. Or, perhaps the price should stay high, providing incentive to lessen our dependence on sweetened foods and reduce the size of our treats…..not such a bad idea, really.
Please share your thoughts below!!