Black salsify is native to central and southern Europe. It was first used as a medicinal plant. It was probably first cultivated in Spain and Italy in the 16th century, appearing later in England. It is now cultivated in temperate and sub-tropical areas and at higher altitudes in the tropics, and is particularly popular in Europe. The roots are very distinctive being carrot-shaped with black skin and white flesh. They are cooked as a vegetable and also used, after drying and roasting, as a coffee substitute. The roots contain inulin, composed of fructose units, which can be eaten by diabetics in place of glucose. The leaves are also used in salads and to feed silkworms.
See: Herbs and Vegetables, pp. 114-5
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Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...