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Aug 12 2013   |   By: admin   |   0   |   Posted in Roots and tubers

Well known to the Andean population for generations, the considerable health benefits and medicinal properties of ARTCs are now beginning to attract the interest of a wider audience. All are good sources of starch, vitamin C, and calcium. Other characteristics of some include potential anti-cancer, immune-boosting, cholesterol reducing, libido enhancing, or other positive properties.

Nutritional and Health Benefits of ARTCs

Maca macamides


high levels of vitamin C, E

high in calcium (150mg/100g dry matter)
good source of protein (10 - 14 %)
contains 9 out of 10 essential amino acids
enhances fertility and hormonal balance,
boosts energy levels,
prevents stress,
prevents development of cancer cells in stomach, breast, skin , colon, prostate
maintains a healthy immune system,
protects against infection,
improves metabolism
promotoes cell and tissue growth and repair
Yacon oligofructose

reduces cholesterol andtriglyceride levels,
enhances insulin function,
controls blood sugar levels,
used to treat hyperglycemia,
aids calcium absorption,
strengthens the immune system,
prevents colon cancer
Oca high protein content with a good balance of amino acids
anthocyanins, phenols, carotenoids
powerful antioxidants, anticarconogenic,
good source of fiber
Ulluco rich in vitamin C, minerals, and proteins  
Mashua lysine (essential amino acid)

anthocyanins, phenols,carotenoids
promotes cell and tissue growth and repair,
creates elastin, collagen,
helps body to metabolize fats and to absorb Vitamin C,
powerful antioxidants, anticarconogenic
Ahipa good source of protein (9%)
good source of potassium

high in vitamins K and C

lowers stress and anxiety levels,
maintains healthy brain, muscle and organ function,
aids blood clotting,
combats osteoporosis,
reduces excessive menstrual pain

Arracacha high calcium and retinol (vit A) content

ascorbic acid
small starch grains, with high levels of amylopectin
recommended in the prevention of osteoporosis,
can also help prevent vitamin A deficiency

excellent digestibility makes it an ideal source of starch for children, dieters, and the elderly
Mauka good source of protein (4.30%)
high in calcium and phosphorous
(100mg/100g fresh weight)
promotes healthy bones and teeth,
helps combat osteoporosis,
aids kidney function,
helps regulate fluid levels
Achira high in vitamin K aids blood clotting,
helps combat osteoporosis,
reduces excessive menstrual pain

Achira and Mauka

Aug 24 2011   |   By: admin   |   0   |   Posted in Roots and tubers

Achira (Canna edulis)

The perennial achira is from the same family that produces the exuberant, showy canna lilies found in florist shops and gardens worldwide. Also known as edible canna or Queensland arrowroot, it was a staple food for ancient Peruvians.

Flowers range in color from red to yellowish orange. There are 30 - 60 species in America and
Asia, most of which produce fleshy, starchy rhizomes but with variable success. The seeds need scarification (softening the seed coat either physically or by chemical means) so that they absorb water more easily to germinate.

The fleshy rhizomes are traditionally baked in earthen ovens, and also used to produce a starchy flour for cooking breads and biscuits, and thickening drinks and soups.

Achira root has the largest starch granules ever determined in a vegetable; visible to the naked eye. The particular composition of this high-value starch enables it to be extracted easily and economically using homemade equipment. It is this industrial starch that provides an important source of income for Andean communities, where in some villages it is the main cash crop.

Achira is gaining wide popularity in Colombia, where there is growing demand for biscuits made from the root. In Vietnam, about 30,000 hectares are planted for prize gourmet noodles.

Mauka (Mirabilis expansa)

Scientists had thought that this colorful root had all but disappeared. Although the species has been described since 1794, it remained in obscurity until 1965, when it was rediscovered in a remote rural community in Bolivia.

Few fields remain and virtually no scientific studies have been carried out on the crop, which reproduces easily through seeds and is amenable to classical plant breeding.

High in protein, calcium, and phosphorous, mauka provides an abundance of succulent, edible stems. The roots are preferably cooked and eaten after several days of exposure to sunlight, a treatment that lessens the slightly bitter taste they have when freshly harvested. Harvested roots are also sometimes placed in the ground for a week to concentrate their sugar content.





Jul 04 2011   |   By: admin   |   0   |   Posted in Roots and tubers

Yacon is a distant relative of the sunflower. With white or yellowish transparent flesh, the root has little variability. Its name comes from the Quechua word yaku alluding to the root’s high water content. The roots are eaten raw and are sweet, low in calories, with a juicy flesh similar to that of an apple or watermelon.

In the Andes, yacon is often grated and squeezed through a cloth to make a sweet refreshing drink. In Spanish colonial times it was used as a food for sailors.

Today, yacon is especially sought after for its health properties. The roots contain oligofructose, a sugar that the human body does not metabolise. It is the main ingredient used to make syrup for diabetes patients. The leaves are used to make infusions and pills for lowering cholesterol.

There is growing interest in the crop worldwide and commercialization has increased significantly over the past decade. Although small-scale production dominates, exports of yacon products to Japan, the European Union, and the US are increasing : crop export revenues for Peru reached over US$ 620,000 in 2010, up from just over US$ 20,000 in 2001.

Processed Yacon Products

  • honey
  • flakes
  • powder
  • dry concentrate
  • teabags
  • tablets

Yacon also retains its crunchy texture during cooking and so makes a good addition to Asian stir-fried dishes. It has been introduced successfully to Japan, where about 100 hectares are grown across the country. Japanese scientists are considering developing yacon as a source for purified fructan, and a variety of processed products such as fermented pickles, dried slices, and fructose.

More Information

Yacon Fact Sheet - PDF

Ahipa and Maca

Apr 19 2011   |   By: admin   |   0   |   Posted in Roots and tubers


Ahipa is the name the Inca gave to the highly nutritious legume root produced by the American yam bean (Pachyrhizus spp). The large root is shaped similarly to a radish with a thick top tapering toward the tip.

The plant has a highly efficient nitrogen capturing root system and can be grown without nitrogen fertilizers, making it highly suited to the needs of small farmers. The alkaloid contained in ahipa seeds and the toxic content of rotenone in its leaves and stems make it a good natural insecticide.

The nutritional value of ahipa is higher than that of many other root crops in terms of protein, and its high water content means that its starch is easily digestible. It is also a good source of potassium and vitamins C and K. The crunchy roots are usually eaten raw like an apple in snacks and salads. It can also be boiled and accompany dishes as a substitute for cassava or sweetpotato.

Despite their high oil and protein content, the seeds are inedible due to the presence of toxic rotenone. CIP breeders are working to detect rotenone free genotypes to select varieties with both edible roots and seeds.

The Ahipa Project is a CIP initiative focused on identifying high yielding varieties, improving the availabilty of ahipa collections and breeding lines, and capturing the full food potential of this highly nutritious crop.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

Maca is something of a unique, wonder crop. The only cruciferae known to have been domesticated in the Americas, it is found only in Peru, growing at altitudes 

macaover 4,000 meters, where no other crop gives reliable yields.

The maca root varies widely in color from yellow and whitish red to black. It has long held a reputation among local people for its miracle properties. It is credited with energizing mind and body, reducing stress, strengthening the immune system, balancing hormone levels, increasing libido and sexual  stamina, enhancing fertility in men, and helping to mitigate the negative effects of menopause in women.It is extremely hardy and thrives in this inhospitable environment, which is characterized by regular frosts and mean monthly maximum temperatures under 12 degrees C during the growing season.

Experiments have also found maca to contain glucosinolates, substances that prevent the development of cancerous cells.

Traditionally the root is boiled, and then mixed with fruit juice and milk to make a thick broth. The fermented juice is also sometimes mixed with other liquors or used in desserts.

Since initial scientific studies began to prove the veracity of maca’s almost mythical power, the crop has experienced a commercial boom. The root is processed to make flour for bread and biscuits, dried powder, and gelatinized capsules. Much of this is organic. Export volume reached over 700,000 kilograms in 2010, and brought in revenues of over US$6 million.