First Quarter Issue



Yacon-based functional foods

YaconTHE POLICE IN THE CORDILLERA HIGHLANDS want to take out many birds with one shot.  And it gained plenty of help from the Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development to do the ploy.

PCIERD responded to a request of the Philippine National Police in Cordillera to study the properties of the increasingly popular Yacon rootcrop, possibly to develop value-added products like tea, juice drinks, and noodles. 

In the process, the PNP hopes to completely eradicate marijuana plantations in the Cordilleras and provide communities with alternative planting materials.  Yacon topped the list of PNP’s options with its supposed healing properties that surround its celebrity rootcrop status.

Development of yacon-based value-added products is considered for sustainability.

The project specifically aims to produce functional foods or nutraceuticals out of yacon, which are growing in popularity because of rising awareness among consumers on diet and disease links, aging populations, rising health care costs, and advances in food technology and nutrition.

The Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute will develop the products, standardize formulation and production process, and evaluate the chemical, physico-chemical, microbiological, and sensory properties of any resulting products.  Functionality of the products will be established in supplementary studies as part of the project.

Originally from Peru, yacon grows perennially and looks like a variety of kamote or sweet potato.  Its flesh is sweet and crunchy just like “singkamas”.  It can be eaten raw, does not increase sugar level, and provides nutrients that are good for the body.

Studies show that from roots to tips, yacon is edible and every part of the plant contains nutritional value.  It is said to be rich in fructooligosaccharide (FOS).  Also known as oligofructose, it is actually a dietary sugar that the human body is unable to metabolize.  A non-digestible carbohydrate, FOS has been associated with management and control of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, prevention of risk of cancer, and weight control.

Yacon tuber also contains traces of phosphorous (22%), glucide (11.1%), protein (0.8%), fiber (0.6%), lipids (0.6%), and cellulose (0.5%).  Other essential elements found in yacon are iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, carotene, magnesium, and Vitamins A, B1, B2, and C. 

These nutritional contents have medicinal benefits to those who suffer from obesity, constipation, insomnia, arthritis, hypertension, and kidney diseases, among others.  Compared to local rootcrops, yacon has the lowest calorie content  (54 cal) or twice lower than sweet potato (123 cal), potato (77cal), and taro (60 cal).

Yacon was introduced in the Philippines in late 90s and the first growers were members of a cooperative in Claveria, Misamis Oriental.  Today, yacon is widely cultivated in Nueva Vizcaya, Cordillera, and other highlands. STP

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