Viability of Yacon and Maca as Flour Substitutes for Baking

Fact checked

By Fiorella M. | Updated: Nov 02, 2023

A study has shown that maca and yacon root powders can be successfully used as substitutes of wheat to create gluten free and nutritious baked goods.
General Information
  • 12 Jan 2016
  • Brazil
  • Federal University of Technology - Paraná
  • Lazaretti Tormena, M. et al
  • Human trial
  • 12 adult tasters
  • One day

Yacon and maca are two South American superfoods, associated with countless health benefits. Yacon is a tuber recognized for its beneficial effects on digestive health and diabetes.1 Maca, on the other hand, is a nutritional powerhouse known to restore hormonal balance and boost stamina, as well as for improving fertility and libido.2,3 This study intended to verify the viability of yacon and maca as flour substitutes for baking by partially replacing wheat.

The Study

Researchers in this study baked a chocolate cake using three types of flour: wheat, yacon, and maca. Each cake was baked with two or three different flour compositions: 1) wheat, yacon, and maca; 2) yacon and wheat; and 3) maca and wheat. The tasters evaluated the samples using a free-choice profiling method, which required them to describe the cake's appearance as well as its texture, aroma, and taste.

The Results

The study has found that the chocolate cake baked with higher maca content was characterized with more brownness, as well as burnt aroma and taste. Chocolate cake made with higher amounts of yacon powder resulted in a more attractive appearance. It was also described as being softer with a sweeter and chocolatier flavor.

What Does This Mean?

In the recent years, celiac disease and gluten intolerance have been on the rise, as well as diabetes and obesity, which calls for an exploration of other sources of non-gluten flour, as well as low-calorie alternatives in order to substitute, partially or completely, wheat flour in baking. Maca and yacon root powder candidates are particularly beneficial due to their added medicinal effects on health. To produce baked goods that are completely gluten-free other wheat flour substitutes include amaranth flour, banana flour, maize flour, and coconut flour.


  • Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Application of multi-block analysis and mixture design with process variable for development of chocolate cake containing yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) and maca (Lepidium meyenii), 2017


  1. Clinical Nutrition Journal. (2009). Yacon syrup: beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from:
  2. Functional Foods in Health and Disease. (2022). The improvement of daily fatigue in women following maca (lepidium meyenii) extract containing benzyl glucosinolate. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from
  3. Reproductive Medicine and Biology. (2019). Effect of Lepidium meyenii on in vitro fertilization via improvement in acrosome reaction and motility of mouse and human sperm. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from