You may have heard of yacon syrup or molasses, one of the newest weight loss aids. Shown on Dr. Oz, it may be one of the healthiest sweeteners with more health benefits than sugar, artificial sweeteners, honey, and even agave.
What is yacon?
It can be used as a sweetener, taking the place of sugar in coffee and tea, used as syrup on pancakes, and also as a dietary supplement for weight loss.
There may be good reasons to use yacon instead of other sweeteners.
It is low calorie as well as scoring only a 1 on the glycemic index, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar too high.
To understand why the glycemic index is important, you first need to understand how sugar is related to weight gain.
Our blood sugar (also called glucose), is what determines if we store fat or burn it off. When we eat, our pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that helps transport glucose to the body’s cells to be used up as energy.
If our glucose is too high, the pancreas works harder and harder to produce more insulin. All of this insulin fakes our bodies into thinking we have enough energy, and our bodies stop burning fat.
When we aren’t burning fat, we are storing it. Once glucose is out of our blood and stored in our cells, insulin levels drop too low, leaving us feeling fatigued and hungry.
According to the American Diabetes Association, foods with a glycemic index below 55 are considered low on the scale, 56-69 is medium, and anything above 70 is high, meaning it will put a spike in our blood sugar level.
Compared to other sweeteners, yacon syrup is low on the glycemic index scale, but exactly how do they compare?
Yacon vs. Agave
Take agave, for example. It has a glycemic index of 15 with about 60 calories per tablespoon, compared to yacon’s glycemic index of 1, with about 20 calories for the same amount. Agave has been known to be one of the “healthier” sweeteners, being that it is all natural.
But that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Agave is mainly fructose. When we consume large amounts of this sugar, it skips our digestive tract entirely and goes straight to the liver, making it hard for the liver to process, ultimately increasing risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Pure honey also ranks higher than yacon on the glycemic scale at 58-60 (this may vary depending on the amount of fructose in each batch). Its calories are also higher, having 60-70 per tablespoon.
Yacon vs. sugar
White table sugar (sucrose) has an even higher glycemic index than honey, ranging from 58-68, with about 48 calories per tablespoon.
Stevia compares to these sugars in a different way. It has no score on the glycemic index, nor does it have calories.
This may seem like the obvious winner, right? No calories and won’t spike my blood sugar? This brings up a whole new issue. Our bodies are fooled by no calorie sweeteners, expecting sugar (glucose) to get into our blood streams, but it doesn’t.
This results in hunger, and obviously when we’re hungry, we want to eat more.
Yacon syrup can substitute for sugar based or artificial sweeteners. Because of the low ranking on the glycemic scale and its low calorie count, it helps us to maintain or even lose weight. Yacon also has other health benefits that other sweeteners cannot offer.
That’s because yacon does not get its sweetness from sucrose or fructose. It gets its sweet flavor from Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which is known to be a prebiotic. When you ingest prebiotics, they are not digested by the body, but feed probiotics, producing “good” bacteria.
Good bacteria fight bad bacteria, increasing our digestive immunity, which decreases disease, and makes us healthier. It also increases calcium, which helps our bones stay strong and fight osteoporosis.
Prebiotics found in yacon syrup can also fight Candida yeast infections, by using the good bacteria to fight overgrowth of yeast.
You may find yacon syrup at GNC, Whole Foods, Walmart, your local health food store, or even Amazon. Read labels carefully.
Since it is used as a weight loss supplement, some brands are marketing it that way and adding other ingredients to what was once pure syrup. If you decide to try yacon syrup, I’m sure you want all the health benefits that come along with it. Make sure what you’re buying is 100 percent pure organic yacon syrup.