yacon (polymnia sonchifolia)

This ‘survival’ food is also often called jiquima, apple root fruit or sweet fruit root

When I was first given this plant I was impressed by it fresh, crunchy taste and texture

I planted it in a corner of my garden and it continues after many years to provide me with a delicious and nutritious food

It is a perennial plant native to South America which can grow up to two metres high

It has large green leaves and develops a pretty daisy like flower in the late summer and early autumn

The vegetation develops from the rhizome but it is the root that develops from the rhizomes that is the most palatable and edible part of the plant

The roots can be harvested 8-10 months after planting the rhizome

The roots can be made sweeter by leaving them in the sun for a few days until the skins goes wrinkly

My plants go dormant during the winter months only to reappear in the spring

You can harvest the roots at any time but at the end of summer I take up the biggest most succulent roots which can be stored in a cool, dark cupboard or in the fridge for up to 5 weeks in ideal conditions

Yacon can be eaten like an apple or sliced, chopped or grated and added to soups stews, stir fries or fruit salads

I have stewed them like apples. The only difference is that they do not lose their crispness when cooked

Refrigerate and then juice them for a refreshing drink

Because sugar can have such a devastating effect on your immune system. Yacon would be a good sweet substitute for both adults and children alike

The main constituent in yacon is carbohydrate in the form of inulin

Inulin helps stabilise blood sugar levels making it a valuable food for diabetics

Yacon also contains 20 of the amino acids making it a important source of protein

Some of its nutrients include vitamins A, B and C as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, silicon, zinc and potassium

Yacon is also is a rich source of calcium

Calcium is important for bone and teeth formation, nerve transmission, regulation of cell division in the body and hormone secretion

Its calcium is far more accessible to your body than the calcium found in dairy products so it is a good food for those who want to avoid dairy or who are vegan

Some deficiencies of calcium are associated with eczema, heart palpitations, hyperactivity, osteoporosis, tooth decay and sciatica

Yacon has significant amounts of potassium

Deficiencies of this mineral are often associated with acne , low adrenal gland function, bone and joint pain, edema, constipation, depression, dry skin, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, weight loss muscle weakness and glucose intolerance

The magnesium content of yacon is also reasonably high compared to other fruits and vegetables we normally eat

Deficiencies of magnesium have been associated with agitation, anxiety, cold hands and feet, chronic fatigue, convulsive seizures, depression, irregular heart beat, kidney stones, PMS, and poor appetite

Even more interesting is that yacon has a whopping 55mg of iron per 100gm of root

Iron is essential for the oxygenation of your blood and the levels of hemoglobin in your red blood cells

This makes it a valuable source of iron for vegetarians

Deficiencies of Iron are associated with anemia, breathing difficulties, brittle nails, sensitivity to cold, dizziness, fatigue, fearfulness, headaches, and lowered immunity

Yacon is a power packed plant food

If you grow it in your garden you will have available at your finger tips this wonderful looking plant along with all its nutrients

Why delay. Make sure you grow some yacon and practice self help from your garden