Yacon syrup has been associated with weight loss for some years now, although the reasons why it can be used to lose weight are not properly understood.
This is particularly true of those that use it, so let’s have a look at what is known about Yacon syrup and try to tie its claimed properties in with those it actually possesses.
We will start by listing the benefits of this sweet-tasting substance, and how it might, or even should, benefit your overall health and help you lose weight.
We will not spend much time on explaining what yacon syrup is, or how it is extracted and evaporated to a syrup. You will be more interested in its properties than in the source of this substance, obtained from the thick roots of the South American yacon plant.
Health Benefits of Yacon Syrup
- Low-Calorie sweetener: Yacon syrup is sweet, and contains up to a third less calories than regular sugar or even honey. It can therefore be used as a sweetener as part of a calorie controlled diet, or simply as a healthier option to regular sugar. Some prefer it to stevia or artificial sweeteners such as saccharin due to perceived health issues with these, although most artificial sweeteners are, in the main, safe to use. It is often taken by the spoonful when used as a weight-loss supplement.
- Helps Lower Cholesterol: Yacon syrup helps to reduce the amount of a certain type of damaging cholesterol in the blood. It also reduces the body’s resistance to insulin, making it a more attractive sweetening agent to diabetics than regular sugars such as sucrose, fructose and glucose.
- Prebiotic Effect: Prebiotics provide sustenance to beneficial bacteria in the lower gut or colon. These bacteria help you maintain a healthy digestive system and gut, and since yacon helps to maintain such colonies, it is a useful substance to take if you have problems in this area. Because of its prebiotic properties, yacon syrup tends to help promote a strong immune system.
- Burns Fats Faster: If you take yacon syrup regularly, it can help increase your metabolic rate: the rate at which your metabolism burns carbohydrates such as fat and sugars to generate energy. This is another benefit associated with its prebiotic effect, and is particularly of beneficial to the elderly and the sick, where their metabolism can tend to be sluggish
- Soluble Fiber: Yacon syrup consists of a mixture of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are complex sugars comprising sucrose and glucose molecules bound together. The majority of FOS in the syrup is a particularly tightly bound form known as inulin (not connected to insulin). It is a soluble fiber which passed through to the lower gut undigested. This is where it is broken down by the ‘good’ bacteria where it also acts as a laxative. The syrup is good to take if you are constipated, but not if you suffer from diarrhea.
- Antioxidant Properties: Inulin possesses antioxidant properties, destroying free radicals and believed to help reduce the possibility of contracting certain types of cancer. It also helps promote arterial health and protect against other free-radical induced issues.
Yacon Syrup Trial Results
Only one significant test has been reported in literature. This was reported in 2009 in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition (see ref below) and comprised trials carried out on a group of 55 obese menopausal women for a period of 120 days.
Forty, who were given a daily dose of yacon syrup, lost an average of 33 lb (15 Kg) and also a reduced waist measurement. They went from clinically obese to simply ‘overweight’ and also displayed a reduction in insulin resistance and their blood displayed a 19% reduction in LDL cholesterol. Those suffering constipation also had this condition relieved.
The other 15 had been given a placebo, and they displayed no improvement in their condition. In fact, as a group, they were found to have put on an additional 2.5 lb.
Yacon Syrup Health Benefits – Conclusions
If a conclusion can be drawn from just one trial, then it shows that yacon syrup can help you to lose weight. Yes, the trial was on already obese women, but these are the very people who want to lose weight. What was encouraging to the researchers was that many of the known theoretical and allegorical health benefits of yacon syrup were supported by the trial results.
When word-of-mouth benefits of a health supplement, or even a foodstuff, are supported by even just the one trial, it is a good indication that such reported benefits are genuine. All too often such benefits are proved false when a product is tested under strict trial conditions.
Perceived benefits may be no more than a placebo effect or wishful thinking. This seems not to be the case with yacon syrup and weight loss. This substance now appears to offer genuine health and weight loss benefits, particular to those with a need to lose weight.
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.
Genta S, Cabrera W, Habib N, Pons J, Carillo IM, Grau A, Sánchez S.