So what is this yacon syrup we keep hearing about? Can it help you lose weight?
Yes, it can help you lose weight. If you like your food and drinks sweet, you can use this sweet-tasting syrup in place of sugar or honey and watch the pounds fall off! Your scales will forget where they once used to be!
How is this possible? Is this yet another weight-loss scam? No, it is not, so read on and find out how nature finds a way to help to lose weight.
What is Yacon Syrup?
First a brief explanation of where this remarkable substance comes from. The yacon plant is indigenous to South America, particularly in those areas around the Andes. The parts of the plant of interest to us are the tuber-like roots that look externally a bit like yam or sweet potato
The roots are chopped and macerated in an industrial juicer and the sweet juice extracted and filtered. This is then poured into an evaporator, and the water evaporated off to leave a thick syrup, with a consistency and taste similar to that of molasses. This yacon syrup is then bottled ready for use.
Why is it Sweet?
Yacon syrup gets its sweetness from sugary substances known as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and a fructan known as inulin – which a more polymerized version of FOS. Together they comprise up to around 50% by weight of the syrup and are composed of fructose and glucose units.
Both inulin and FOS are resistant to digestion and pass down easily into the colon. They are regarded as being a form of insoluble fiber, and healthy to the human digestive system. Henceforth we shall use the term inulin for the mix of true inulin and fructooligosaccharides.
What are the Benefits of Yacon Syrup
Prebiotic: Well, first of all it is a prebiotic. It helps the growth of bacteria in the gut – not only bad bacteria but also the good bacteria that are essential for a healthy digestive system. The healthier your digestive system, the easier you should find it to maintain a healthy weight.
If you have issues with gastro-enteritis or any form of intestinal bacterial infection, get that dealt with before taking yacon syrup. Once your system is settled, then yacon syrup will help maintain it that way. It’s a good idea to use yacon with a probiotic drink or yoghurt. This will give a big boost to the health of your lower intestine and colon.
Low Calorie: Yacon syrup is a low calorie sweetener. If you like your drinks, food or deserts sweet, then it can be used in place of regular sugar and honey with only around a third the calories of these. You can therefore use it to lose weight.
Lowers Cholesterol: Studies carried out at Kiel University in Germany indicate that Yacon syrup helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Helps Constipation: Because it contains a large proportion of insoluble fiber, yacon syrup improves peristalsis in the intestine. This in turn aids the movement of stool through the colon and helps relieve constipation. The obverse of this is that if you take more than around 50g daily (=25g inulin/FOS) movement could become too easy and you can get diarrhea.
Have There Been Human Studies?
Yes there have been. In one study* published in Edinburgh’s Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, of 40 obese women taking yacon syrup for 120 days, all lost weight – an average of 33 lb each (15 Kg). None of 15 similarly obese women taking a placebo lost weight. In fact they gained an average of 3.5 lb (1.6 Kg) over the same period.
Not just that, but the trial subjects also suffered high cholesterol and constipation. The 40 taking yacon syrup were cured of constipation and enjoyed a 19% reduction in LDL cholesterol. Their BMI (body mass index) dropped by an average of 17.6% (from obese to overweight) and their insulin levels also reduced.
So What’s the Final Word on Yacon Syrup?
The final word is that yacon syrup can be used as part of a healthy weight-reduction program. Not only that but, having gained your target weight, it helps you stay there! The added health benefits are a very good reason for using the syrup as a regular sweetener, even if you have no need (or no further need) to lose weight.
Sure, many of these benefits have yet to be proven absolutely by trials on human subjects, but the science and theory are sound. The science has been backed up by results on rats and mice as well as the above study.
Yacon syrup tastes sweet, yet it can help you lose weight and also improve your general health.
* Genta S, Cabrera W, Habib N, Pons J, Carillo IM, Grau A, Sánchez S.
Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;28(2):182-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.01.013. Epub 2009 Feb 28.
Yacon syrup: beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans.
Andersson, H.B., L.H. Ellegård and I.G. Bosaeus. 1999.
Nondigestibility characteristics of inulin and oligofructose in humans.
Journal of Nutrition 129: 1428S-1430S.
Coussement, P. 1999.
Inulin and oligofructose: Safe intakes and legal status.
Journal of Nutrition 129: 1412S-1417S.
Pedreschi, R., D. Campos, G. Noratto, R. Chirinos and L. Cisneros-Zevallos. 2003.
Andean yacon root (Smallanthus sonchifolius Poepp. Endl) fructooligosaccharides as a potential novel source of prebiotics.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistr y.51(18): 5278-5284.