Yacon syrup is a sweetener that has recently gained popularity as a low-calorie sugar substitute and potential weight loss aid. Native to South America, yacon comes from the roots of the Smallanthus sonchifolius plant.
What Is Yacon Syrup?
Yacon syrup is extracted from the fibrous roots of the yacon plant, which is native to the Andes mountains and has been used for hundreds of years as a traditional food and folk medicine. The syrup contains high amounts of a prebiotic fiber called fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
Due to its sweet taste and low-calorie content, yacon syrup has been marketed as a healthy alternative sweetener for diabetics and dieters. However, it may also offer additional weight loss benefits thanks to its ability to promote feelings of fullness and decrease fat production.
Let’s take a closer look at the research on yacon syrup and weight loss. We’ll also discuss how to incorporate it into your diet safely
Health Benefits Of Yacon Syrup
Yacon syrup contains prebiotic fibers that may promote feelings of fullness, reduce appetite, increase fat burning, and decrease fat storage. Several studies have shown yacon syrup can lead to modest weight loss.
Blood sugar regulation
The fiber in yacon syrup helps slow digestion, which prevents blood sugar spikes after eating. This makes it a good sugar substitute for diabetics. Research shows it may improve insulin sensitivity as well.
The fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in yacon feed probiotics and stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. This improves digestion and gut health. The prebiotics may also help with constipation relief.
By encouraging gut bacteria growth, yacon syrup may support immune system health. Gut flora plays an important role in immunity. The FOS has antioxidant effects as well.
Cholesterol and heart health
Some animal studies indicate the fiber in yacon may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce fat accumulation in the liver, and decrease inflammation tied to heart disease risk. But more research is needed.
Antioxidants in yacon syrup may provide anti-aging effects. Applying it topically may hydrate skin. One study noted improvements in skin elasticity in postmenopausal women taking yacon syrup.
Early research found yacon syrup may enhance calcium absorption and retention. This could support bone density, especially for women at risk for osteoporosis.
How Does Yacon Syrup Promote Weight Loss?
There are a few key mechanisms by which yacon syrup may encourage weight loss:
The FOS in yacon syrup cannot be absorbed or broken down by digestive enzymes. It passes through the small intestine intact until it reaches the colon, where it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.
The colonic fermentation of FOS helps regulate appetite hormones, like ghrelin and peptide YY, which can suppress appetite.
Lower Calorie Intake
Yacon syrup has about 33 calories per tablespoon but over 85% of those calories come from FOS fiber.
The syrup provides sweetness with minimal effect on blood sugar, allowing you to satisfy a sweet tooth without excess calories. Using it in place of higher-calorie sweeteners can help reduce overall calorie intake.
The fiber content of yacon syrup helps slow digestion, allowing you to feel fuller for longer after eating. Consuming it before meals may decrease overall food intake at meals and prevent overeating.
Fat Burning Effects
Early research found yacon syrup may increase fat burning, especially around the belly area. The FOS act as soluble fiber, which may prevent fat storage. One study showed improved insulin sensitivity and enhanced metabolism in obese individuals taking yacon syrup.
Clearly, the prebiotic fiber in yacon syrup offers several advantages for controlling appetite and increasing satiation from meals. By promoting weight loss through multiple mechanisms, it may be a useful addition to a comprehensive weight loss protocol.
Is Yacon Syrup Safe?
For most healthy adults, consuming normal amounts of yacon syrup appears to be safe, according to existing research. Many studies have used daily doses ranging from 10-20 grams with minimal side effects. However, there are some considerations:
- Since it is high in FOS, excess intake can sometimes cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Start with small amounts and gradually increase the dosage.
- Allergies to yacon are rare but possible if you are sensitive to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, or chrysanthemums. Discontinue use if any symptoms develop.
- The syrup’s sugars may interact with blood glucose control for diabetics. Monitor levels closely when first using yacon syrup.
- Children, pregnant women, and those with kidney disease should exercise caution and consult a doctor before regularly consuming yacon syrup.
Moderation is key. Consuming large amounts could lead to excess calories, negating potential benefits. Purchase high-quality syrup and use it responsibly as part of a healthy diet plan.
Early research indicates yacon syrup may be a beneficial tool for promoting satiety, regulating blood sugar spikes, feeding gut bacteria, and encouraging gradual weight loss. But larger scale studies are still needed.
There appear to be minimal health risks involved with using yacon syrup short-term at appropriate doses. As with any supplement, consult your physician before adding yacon syrup to your daily regimen.
When combined with an overall healthy lifestyle, yacon syrup may help support your weight loss efforts. But it should not be viewed as a magic bullet for dramatic weight loss on its own. Maintaining realistic expectations and using yacon syrup responsibly will give you the best chance of seeing desired results.
Research showing benefits for weight loss have typically used around 10-15 grams per day, taken before 1-2 meals. Start with 5 grams (1 teaspoon) before your largest meal and gradually work up to 10-15 grams max per day.
Take yacon syrup about 30-60 minutes prior to your heaviest meals, like breakfast or lunch. This allows time for the FOS to start expanding in your stomach so you feel fuller sooner while eating.
Small studies have shown modest decreases in body weight, fat mass, BMI and waist size. But larger clinical trials are still needed. The research so far is promising for aiding appetite control and fat loss when combined with lifestyle changes. Expect gradual progress over time.
Yacon syrup is well tolerated by most people but can sometimes cause mild digestive issues. Start with a small dose and discontinue use if any concerning reactions occur. People with diabetes and women who are pregnant should exercise caution when using yacon syrup.
There are currently no strict guidelines about long-term use. But existing studies safely used daily yacon syrup for healthy adults for up to 5 months with minimal adverse effects reported. Discuss long-term use with your doctor.