Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius): a functional food

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2013 Sep;68(3):222-8. doi: 10.1007/s11130-013-0362-0.


Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is an Andean tuberous root that is regarded as a functional food given that it contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin and phenolic compounds. The consumption of FOS and inulin improves the growth of bifidobacteria in the colon, enhances mineral absorption and gastrointestinal metabolism and plays a role in the regulation of serum cholesterol. Furthermore, the literature reports that the consumption of these prebiotics promotes a positive modulation of the immune system, improving resistance to infections and allergic reactions. Certain studies have demonstrated the potential of yacon as an alternative food source for those patients with conditions that require dietary changes. This review intends to describe the potential of yacon as a prebiotic and its cultivation and industrial processing for human consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asteraceae / chemistry*
  • Bifidobacterium / growth & development
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Food Handling
  • Functional Food* / analysis
  • Humans
  • Inulin
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Phenols
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Tubers / chemistry
  • Prebiotics*


  • Oligosaccharides
  • Phenols
  • Prebiotics
  • fructooligosaccharide
  • Inulin