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Argentina promotes yacon cultivation
Yacon is an Andean root with multiple benefits that make it a suitable food for diabetics.
In Argentina, the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) Salta and the cooperative El Sol are evaluating its productive potential and alternatives for its use, as it has already been included in the Codex Alimentarius.
The yacon has yellow flowers that are similar to daisies. It is a plant that has been growing for centuries in the Andes.
In fact, consumption of this roots was very popular during the pre-Hispanic period.
In the framework of the 40th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) held in Geneva - Switzerland - the yacon was included in the international standard.
Leonardo Fernandez, the head of the Agro-ecological Demonstration Center of the INTA unit in Salta, said that "it is a plant that grows naturally in warm and temperate climates of the Andes and its ideal for diabetics thanks to its sweet taste, which is similar to that of an apple or a melon."
"People say yacon has multiple nutritional benefits," Fernandez said. "This is because of its low carbohydrate content and because it contains inulin, fructooligosaccharides (healthy fiber types) and phenolic compounds that regulate sugar."
"We seek to promote the development of these crops to contribute to local biodiversity, not only because they are adapted to the region, but also because their incorporation into diets will contribute to healthier nutritional habits," said Fernandez.
The INTA's Agroecological Demonstration Center (CDA) in Salta together with the El Sol cooperative are working on the promotion and multiplication of its roots, leaves and stem.
According to Silvia Ebber, president of the cooperative, "the idea is to collect and multiply varieties of this plant on the CDA farm; not only as a strategy to preserve ancestral varieties, but also to position food with a territorial identity and generate differentiated products with added value to continue developing family farming."
"Promoting it helps us avoid losing a native plant species that brings multiple nutritional benefits," said Ebber, who highlighted the integral use that can be made of the plant: "Its roots, leaves, flowers and stem can be used to enrich the diets of people and of animals."
The yacon is originally from Peru, but the native peoples, who were convinced of its potential to alleviate ailments, extended its cultivation from Ecuador and Colombia, to the Argentinian northwest.
"Yacon is a 100 percent natural edible product that improves one or more functions in the body," he said.
Some of its main properties are: it lowers blood glucose; Lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides; Facilitates the assimilation of calcium, which contributes to the prevention of osteoporosis; Improves the functioning of the immune system; Regulates blood pressure and prevents arteriosclerosis, among other things.
As for its consumption, the INTA specialist pointed out that "the yacon candy satiates the desire to eat something sweet. In addition, it can be infused, use as a condiment, and it can even be used as a fruit in different kinds of salads.
Publication date: 8/17/2017
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