Yacon syrup reviews and detailed information
In the last few days, there’s been much talk about yacon syrup as a weight loss product with great untapped potential. So what is yacon syrup, what’s all the fuss about, and how could it help you?
What is yacon syrup?
Yacon is a green leafed plant with pale, tuberous roots that taste rather like an apple. It grows in the Andes. The use of yacon as a food stretches back at least to the time of the Incas, and it is still widely used in Latin America. Peruvians eat it for its positive nutritional properties, being light in calories and containing only low levels of sugar. In Bolivia, the roots are fed to diabetics and others with problems with their renal or digestive systems. Even the leaves see medicinal use, being dried and used in a tea to battle diabetes in Brazil.
Yacon is turned into syrup using a similar process to maple syrup, involving an evaporator. Its flavour has been variously compared with caramelized sugar, molasses, and even raisins and figs, and it can easily be used as a sweetener. In 2002, a scientific study by Yoshida et al found that it was a great anti-oxidant, superior to those derived from eggplant, burdock, mushroom or potato.
The idea that yacon can be good for you is clearly not a new one. So why has this South American syrup suddenly hit the headlines?
Why the current fuss?
Work has been underway for a few years looking at the potential health benefits of yacon syrup. In 2009, a study on yacon syrup was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition by a group of nutrition scientists led by Susana Genta. This study looked at 55 women from Argentina who were struggling to overcome obesity. They were all told to take two 45 minutes walks a week and to slightly reduce the amount that they ate. But only half of them were also given yacon syrup.
The outcome of the study was impressive. After four months, there was no change in weight for the women who had not had yacon syrup. But those who took the syrup lost 33 pounds on average, along with four inches off the waist. They experienced better bowel movements, and their levels of cholesterol and insulin improved.
The potential of yacon was picked up on by Dr Oz and his television show. They recently carried out another test in which 60 women were asked to take yacon syrup, but otherwise stick with their usual diet and exercise habits. The 40 women who completed the four week project saw an average loss of 2.9 pounds each and of 1.9 inches around the waist – the benefits of the Genta et al’s study had apparently been replicated. In only a month, yacon syrup had brought weight loss to three quarters of the women who stuck with it.
Weight loss is big business. Everyone wants to look and feel the best that they can. So now thousands of weight conscious Americans are eyeing up the yacon syrup.
How does yacon do it?
The most obvious benefits of yacon syrup are the headline grabbing ones – weight loss, and the reduction in waistline that comes with it. Both the 2009 study and the Dr Oz project saw these benefits in action. But how does this happen?
Yacon syrup is rich in fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a regular mouthful of a nutrient. FOS are a type of sugar, and can be found in all sorts of plants. But unlike the sugars we normally put in our food, FOS are hard for the guts to break down. They go through the human body without being digested, meaning that the calories they contain never enter your system. In short, it’s a sugar that doesn’t give you weight.
FOS also act as dietary fiber, which is important in keeping your digestive system working healthily. Fiber helps you to feel full with less calories inside you, and to regulate the way that your body takes in nutrients.
The FOS in yacon also has other benefits in keeping weight down. It seems to feed good bacteria in your gut, which may help keep to a healthy weight. As they eat up the FOS, these bacteria turn it into short-chain fatty acids, which can reduce the amount of cholesterol you take in and improve sensitivity to insulin, the chemical that helps you control your blood sugar levels. This improvement in the way your body uses insulin is why yacon may be helpful in controlling diabetes, as shown in its use in South America, and can help control appetite and food cravings for those wanting to lose weight.
It’s not even all about weight loss. Yacon seems to improve the body’s intake of minerals and use of calcium. Studies have found that plants like yacon can even improve the working of the immune system, fighting off infections and in particular reducing the chance of digestive allergies.
When and how should you use yacon syrup?
Yacon syrup can be bought online or from health food shops. It may be worth your trying it if you want to lose weight – anything that gives your body an extra boost can help to improve both the weight loss itself and your ability to stick with a diet, as you can see greater benefits and feel the improvement.
Take a teaspoon of the syrup with each meal, or use it instead of sugar. You can put yacon syrup in hot drinks like tea and coffee, but if you use it for baking then you will lose many of the benefits. Because it affects your bowel movements, don’t overdo the yacon – limit yourself to at most one or two tablespoons a day – that’s three to six teaspoons.
You may not want to take yacon syrup if you have loose stools or diarrhea, as its digestive effects could worsen these problems. Also avoid yacon if you are allergic to sunflower seeds or other foods related to it. And as with all medicines, talk with your doctor before trying any yacon syrup supplement if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.