yacon tea
coca tea
hoja de yacon
yacon natural

Yacon Information Page

  • Description
  • Properties
  • Technical sheet
  • Uses
  • Nutrition Facts
  • FAQ

The Yacón is a perennial plant grown in the Andes for its crisp, sweet-tasting tuberous root. The texture and flavour have been described as a cross between a fresh apple and watermelon which is why it is sometimes referred to as the apple of the earth. The root is composed mostly of water and fructo-oligosaccharides. It has recently been introduced into farmer's markets and natural food stores in the US.

Although sometimes confused with jicama, yacón is actually a close relative of the sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke. The plants produce two types of roots: propagation roots and storage roots. Propagation roots grow just under the soil surface and produce new growing points that will become next year's aerial parts. These roots resemble Jerusalem artichokes. Storage roots are large and edible.

These edible roots contain inulin, an indigestible sugar, which means that although they have a sweet flavour, the roots contain fewer calories than would be expected.

Yacón plants can grow to over 2 meters in height and produce small, yellow inconspicuous flowers at the end of the growing season. Unlike many other root vegetables domesticates by the Inca (ulluco, oca), the yacón is not photoperiod sensitive, and can produce a commercial yield in the tropics

In colonial times yacón consumption was identified with a Catholic religious celebration held at the time of an earlier Inca feast. In the Moche era, it maybe have been food for a special occasion. Effigies of edible food may have been placed at Moche burials for the nourishment of the dead, as offerings to lords of the other world, or in commemmoration of a certain occasion. Moche depicted these yacón in their ceramics.



Name of Product:: YACÓN
Scientific Name: Smallanthus sonchifolia
Class: Dicotyledoneae
Order. Asterales
Family: Compositae.


The yacón is a distant relative of the sunflower, a native of the Andes. Its edible roots, which are sweet and low in calories, eaten raw. The yacón contains inulin, a natural sugar substitute, and has considerable value for diabetics and those who follow diets. In Peru is planted mainly in Cajamarca.

It is worth noting that most of the roots and tuberosas stored carbohydrates in the form of starch, while the yacón makes in the form of inulin, which passes through the digestive tract providing too few calories

In Japan has developed a small farming industry essentially pointing to their dietary and medicinal properties. It consumed the dried roots as chips and dried leaves you prepare for medicinal antidiabetic. The production of Yacón targeted for a range of uses specialized medical and dietary appears to be a viable and attractive alternative.


Yacón is a perennial herb that is 3 meters high. The system consists of the root of 4-20 roots tuberosas carnudas storage that can reach a length of 25 centimeters, with a diameter of 10 centimeters, as well as an extensive fine fibrous roots. Productivity in yacón correlates with the number of roots of the plant. The roots accumulate sugars that can be easily monitored by measuring the refractive index of the juice from the root. The color of choice for meat root in the South American markets is yellow but a range of colors is available.
The Yacón belongs to the family Compositae or asteraceas, a family of very large plants with numerous representatives, such as sunflower, the dahlia or tooth of Leon. As these presents the typical inflorescence, yacón presents huge sheets distributed in pairs along little branched stalks. But the most striking aspect of this kind constitute what their bodies underground. These are formed by a compact mass of very short branched stems, rhizomes of which leave the roots thin absorbent. The set of roots and rhizomes storage of a single plant could weigh more than 10 kilograms. Most of the biomass is made up of water that usually exceeds 70% of the fresh weight. On the other hand, 70 to 80% of dry weight is made up of carbohydrates, mostly fructanos.


The use of the leaves for the preparation of medicinal you for the treatment of diabetes, it is a habit that has emerged spontaneously in modern times, probably in Japan. There are clear indications that pilot give a physiological basis for this use. Detected by a group of Brazilian researchers, and confirmed later in Argentina. Aqueous extracts of the leaves have the ability to reduce the levels of glucose in the blood.
Chemical compounds that have not yet been isolated, has the property to act by reducing the levels of glucose in the blood of rats that have developed diabetes at artificially. These rats were treated with extracts of leaves orally and parenterally, with positive results. The extracts of leaf yacón has the ability to increase insulin levels in the blood and thus reduce the levels of glucose. This reduction will be reflected positively while maintaining the ability of the kidneys filter. In people with diabetes increases the kidney removal creatinine and albumin. With consumption yacón decreases the elimination of these two compounds and leads to their normal values.
These results provide experimental support for the use of tea yacón. Moreover although these results are very promising, we need a more detailed and lengthy pilot to be able to fully assess the pharmacological action of the extracts in humans.


The inulin and oligofructose are a group of oligosaccharides derived from sucrose, which are isolated from natural plant sources. They can be classified so as dietary fiber. They have beneficial effects on intestinal transit.
The beneficial effects to health which has its consumption can be summarized as follows:
They reduce the risk of atherosclerosis associated with insulin resistance and dyslipidemia (especially with hypertriglyceridemia), which as we know is associated with way power hipercalóricos and based mainly on Carbohydrates. Experimental data show that the oligofructose inhibits lipogénesis liver and consequently have an effect hipotrigliceridémico.
They reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which improve the bioavailability of calcium. It has been shown that both increases bone mineral density and bone mass.
The yacón has been used for diabetics. It is used as a tea with the characteristics hypoglycemic and sold commercially as in Brazil.
Forms for use: genetic potential, agronomic and food.
Human consumption: the roots are consumables in fresh, sunny, boiled, baked, refreshments -uso industrial source of dietary sugar, alcohol, chancaca
Medicinal Use: for sick patients with diabetes.
Potential agronomic soil as a protector, by its ability to continue as perennial species, especially in arid agro-ecological zones.
The yacón is a very promisor to diet and medicine, because it is a promising alternative for patients sick with diabetes, since it contains sugars are stored in the form of inulin polymer fructose or levulosa: a "sugar "with special features, though sweeter than glucose, does not cause problems in diabetics, not raise blood glucose.
As of sugar cane, can concentrate sugars and get a chancaca or sugar cane. There is also a potential for agro-processing of these sugars into alcohol.
It has a great potential agronomic; also serves as a protector of soil, by its ability to continue as perennial species, especially in arid agro-ecological zones.


The average sugar content increases as concentrated in the roots exposed to the sun, such as fructose varies from 2-22 g per 100 in fresh roots; alpha glucose 2-7 g; beta of 2-6 g glucose and sucrose from 2-4 g.
Composition per 100 grams of edible portion
Energy (kcal) = 54
Water (g ) = 86.6
Protein (g) = 0.3
Fat (g) = 0.3
Carbohydrate (g) = 12.5
Fiber (g) = 0.5
Ash (g) = 0.3
Calcium (mg) = 23
Phosphorus (mg) = 21
Iron (mg) = 0.3
Retinol (mcg) = 12
Thiamin (mg) = 0.02
Riboflavin (mg) = 0.11
Niacin (mg) = 0.34
Acid ascorbic = 13.1



Yacon is a member of the sunflower family (Compositae or Asteraceae). Its scientific name is Smallanthus sonchifolius, previously recognized as Polymnia sonchifolia or Polymnia edulis. Common names used in different parts of the Andes include llaqon, llacum, llacuma, yacumpi, aricuma, chicama, jiquima and jiquimilla.

Description and traditional uses

Yacon is a herbaceous perennial growing up to 1.5-2.5 m in height. The plant produces storage roots (also known as yacon) with a pleasant, slightly sweet taste, which are eaten raw like a fruit. Owing to their succulence the roots are traditionally used by rural people as a refreshment during field work, or occasionally for skin rejuvenation and to relieve intestinal, hepatic and renal disorders. Yacon is also used as an offering during Andean religious festivities.

Geographical distribution

The original habitat of yacon is the Andean highlands, from southern Colombia to northern Argentina, between 1800 and 2800 masl, in tropical montane climates. However, the plant thrives in a range of climates and soils from sea level to 3500 masl. Frost destroys the plant. In
1982, yacon was introduced into New Zealand and from there to Japan in 1985. Currently, it is grown in Brazil, Korea, Czech Republic, Russia, Taiwan and some places in the US.

Production zones

Eighteen of the 20 departments of Peru grow yacon with Amazonas, Cajamarca, Oxapampa, Huanuco and Puno having the largest areas of yacon production. An estimated total of 600 ha was grown in Peru in 2002 for commercial purposes. In Bolivia and Ecuador yacon is grown on a minor scale for subsistence, in Argentina it is grown only in the northern provinces of Jujuy and Salta. Outside of the Andes, Brazil (Sao Paulo) and Japan (about 100 ha) have the largest yacon areas.


With the aerial plant parts showing little variation, yacon cultivars are differentiated by the colors of the root skin and flesh. The flesh color ranges from cream, light orange to reddish and purple; occasionally the flesh has purple mottles. The number of cultivars is unknown but it is estimated that it could be between 20 and 30.


Yacon is propagated vegetatively from its fleshy rhizome, a branched subterraneous organ, which is partitioned into 6-14 propagules. Alternatively, nodal or stem cuttings can be rooted
for vegetative propagation. Sexual reproduction of yacon is difficult because of the rare formation of fertile botanical seeds.


Traditionally, yacon is sown in the Andes between September and November, at the onset of the rainy season. However, where irrigation is available and frosts are absent, yacon can be sown at any time of the year, thus providing year-round supply of fresh roots. Yacon grows best in soils high in organic matter and with neutral to slightly acidic pH. Plant spacing should be 0.6–1.0 m within rows and 0.8–1.0 m between rows. Water requirements are comparatively high (>800 mm) and water deficiencies can have significant adverse effects on yield. Crop duration varies between 6 and 12 months depending chiefly on altitude.


Although yacon root yields up to 100 t/ha have been reported, yields under Andean conditions typically range 20-40 t/ha. There is variation in yield between cultivars, but the environment –
locality, fertilization, cultivation period– can significantly modify yields.

Chemical composition

Yacon roots contain mostly water and carbohydrates (see Table). Forty to 70% of the root dry matter consists of oligofructose (OF), a particular sugar with several health benefits. Simple
sugars (sucrose, fructose and glucose) account for 15-40% of dry matter. Other nutrients are low except for potassium.

Postharvest handling

In ambient temperatures the harvested roots rapidly convert OF into simple sugars. One week after harvest the OF content of the roots can be reduced by 30-40%. Thus, if products with the highest possible OF content are required, the roots need to be either processed immediately after harvest or refrigerated to minimize OF degradation. On the other hand, the custom of putting the roots out in the sun for a few days to make them sweeter accelerates the conversion process of OF into simple sugars.

Health benefits of yacon consumption3

Owing to the fact that OF contributes few calories to the human organism (1.5 kcal/g) and does not elevate blood glucose, yacon can be consumed by diabetics and weight-watchers. But OF is
also a prebiotic (reconstituting intestinal microflora) and soluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Moreover, animal studies indicate that OF promotes calcium absorption, reduces
cholesterol levels, strengthens the immune system and reduces carcinogen lesions in the colon.
Additionally, yacon roots and leaves contain polyphenols with anti-oxidant activity associated with the prevention of cancer and arteriosclerosis. Yacon leaf extracts –high in polyphenols-
have been shown to reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic and non-diabetic rats4 , 5 .



Unlike other plants, which store carbohydrates in the form of starch, Yacón makes in the form of inulin and oligofructose, known as food of the intestinal flora (prebiotic function), which is conducive to people suffering from diabetes.

With the revival of intestinal bacteria useful, malignant germs have little chance of expansion. The balance intestinal positively influences the regulation of fat in the blood and skin.

Recommended use

Cash antidiabetico, for their active power hipoglicemica to reduce the level of blood sugar

Reducing the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides (against atherosclerosis)

Promotes the development of bifidobacteria and Bacillus subtilis in the colon

Prevents growth of microorganisms putrefactivos which tend to cause diarrhea

Stomach disorders can be corrected fairly common as acidity, indigestion gastric disorders

Improves absorption of calcium

It stimulates the synthesis of B vitamins

Provides low-calorie

These sugars are not cariogenicos

Control of constipation, increasing the excretion

Strengthens the immune system response

Prevent gastrointestinal infections

The Yacón and diabetes

Studies at the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo in experimental animals with induced diabetes, which had supplied the juice of Yacón; showed no changes in glycemia of these animals. This phenomenon is explained, because fructose, evicted the bloodstream to glucose into tissues. Consequently serum could be developed from this type of sugar, avoiding risk of hyperglycemia in patients.

While it is a natural product whose active ingredients are not fully analyzed or discovered, it was found that the plant Yacón, specifically their leaves, can help significantly to alleviating diabetes. The use of the leaves through the consumption of Yacón microspray capsules for the treatment of diabetes, it is a habit that has emerged spontaneously in modern times, probably in Japan

There are clear indications that pilot give a physiological basis for this use, detected by a group of Brazilian researchers and confirmed later in Argentina. Aqueous extracts of the leaves have the ability to reduce the levels of glucose in the blood. Chemical compounds that have not yet been isolated act are owned by reducing the levels of glucose in the blood of rats that have developed diabetes at artificially.

The yacon besides eat like a fruit, ie as an apple raw medicinal use is mainly because it has a sugar that is not absorbed by the human body. And rather passes without metabolizarse, but in the large intestine is used by some bacteria to their metabolism, then the sugar helps to increase yacon microflora which is in the last part of the large intestine, and have high populations of these bacteria known as bifidobacteria allowed to regulate other bacteria that are responsible for the putrefaction of the waste found in the large intestine. It is said that the bifidobacteria stimulated by the consumption of yacon have less toxins and consequently less risk of occurrence of the colon cancer.

In addition to the medicinal properties that we have mentioned to the roots, the edible part of yacon, has found that the leaves also have medicinal properties, the leaves have hipoglicemiantes properties, ie when a mate from the leaves of yacon then been able to reduce the concentration of glucose in the blood, thus diabetic people feel relief when taking a mate of yacon, feel this relief that glucose is low in concentration. But that way of serving the yacon, is the roots or leaves, it appears that it does is stimulate the pancreas, then thanks to the stimulus is this contributing to the conservation of regulating blood sugar

For some time used the drug estreptozotocina (STZ) to partially destroying the pancreatic cells in laboratory rats, which achieves these symptoms develop a diabetic, increased blood sugar and all the associated complications. Its use does not increase our weight or glucose rises


The Yacón is a bushy plant native to the Andes, domesticated by the population tahuantinsuyana, well known for the Peruvian population prehispánica, by the sweetness of its roots swollen that consumed as "fruit" fresh, or after expose to the sun for a few days to increase their sweetness.

The first written record on Yacón, appears with Barnabas Cobo in 1633 and refers to is consumed raw as it improves its flavor when exposed to the sun and the fact that lasts many days after being harvested, without break, for In contrast becomes more pleasant (Zardini, 1991). For its part Yacovleff (1933) said that yacón is in almost every funeral bundles of Paracas. It also designs have found their roots in paintings of Nazca Embrionaria.


In northern Peru is known as "Yacón" or "llacón" and "lajuash." In the center of Peru is known as "aricoma" or "aricona." In Bolivia called "lacjon" and "Yakuma" in Ecuador "jícama" or "jiquima" and in Colombia and Venezuela "jiquima" and "jiquimilla."



The chemical and bromatológico of the leaves has revealed that among other components, containing 11% protein so that the peoples of the highlands, are used as fodder to feed animals for grazing and raising guinea pigs. In Japan, scientists, producers and consumers, have formed the Japanese Association of yacón. This Society and other similar foreign groups, are exploiting their culture and promoting consumption of the "Andean tea" based on the leaves of this plant. While in the Andes, growing yacón is losing force, industrial Japan, Brazil, New Zealand and other countries, are exploiting this alimento-medicamento and opened an international market with a variety of products based on yacón


The roots fresh, contain from 83 to 87% water. The tuber dry matter (DM) containing 70% carbohydrates:

Oligofructanos low grade Polymerization (G. P = 3 - 9). The yacones of Peru and Bolivia have the highest percentage Asami et al. (1991). Up to 67%

Fructose free (monosaccharide which has not reducer group cetónico unlike glucose that has aldehyde chemical group).

Inulin, formed by polysaccharide chains linked fructosas
(G. P = 35)
It also contains minerals (calcium, phosphorus and iron) and vitamins B and C.

The oligosaccharides and inulin low GP (Degree of Polarization) are in the category of non-digestible food. As it is not digestible, these compounds are not assimilated and do not provide calories. Eat yacón in their natural form or a food-based tuber this is not going to increase the weight of a person or less going to raise levels of blood glucose.


The Pancreas and hormone Insulin

The portion of the endocrine pancreas consists accumulations of cells known as ISLOTES (islets of Langerhans). The beta cells in these islets produce insulin and constitute 75% of the same. This hormone (insulin) is secreted in response to a rise in the concentration of blood sugar (eg after a meal). Decreases concentration when blood glucose levels have fallen to reach their normal values either by the passage of blood glucose to cells or surplus due to conversion at its polysaccharide reservation, the glycogen.

The main function of insulin is to act as a mediator or facilitator income glucose from the blood vessels into the interior of the cell where it serves as fuel for energy chemistry with the carrying just their specific roles. By the entry of glucose into the cells and / or its conversion into glycogen, remains constant concentration of glucose (90-110 mg / 100 ml).

The carbohydrate food source exogenous glucose

When various causes (physiological, metabolic or genetic) blood glucose not enter cells, each time the person ingested carbohydrates in their food (bread, sweets, flour, noodles) these ultimately are converted into glucose, increasing their values in the detriment of the blood cells that without this molecule that represents its fuel chemical, can not effectively fulfill their duties. This triggers a series of signals that correspond to the disease known as diabetes


GLUCOSURIA: Elimination of glucose in urine (urine odor of fresh apple). This occurs because the kidney filters more sugar of the tubular cells can absorb, appearing glucose in the urine.
POLIURIA: Increase in the volume of urine. Because the urine is osmóticamente them, excessive amounts of water.
POLIDIPSIA: Increased intake of water. The excessive loss of water in the urine, dehydrates the body and a thirst appears intense.
POLIFAGIA: It is the desire of excessive eating. By not joining the glucose into the cells they are "hungry". The hunger cells manifested as hunger of the individual.


nutritional tablen


Can Children eat Yacon?

Yes, from InKas time the Andes children are eating Yacon as delicious fruit.

Why people with diabetes can eat Yacon even it is sweet?

Yacon roots contains the sweet-tasting oligo-fructans which is a carbohydrate that the human body has no enzyme to hydrolyze passing it through the digestive tract unmetabolized.

What are the main Yacon components?

Yacon roots contain mainly beta-1,2-oligofructans, phenolic acid (e.g. caffeic acid and ferulic acid), flavonoid quercetin, fiber and vitamins but Yacon leaf contain mainly phenolic acids and chlorogenic acid.

Nature Peru 2010