Yacón Syrup: The New Sweetener That Will Not Increase High Blood Pressure or Make You Gain Weight
Leave it to manufacturers to complicate sugar. Remember when you basically had white and brown packets to choose between? Today, manufacturers know we eat too much sugar: an average of 77 – 152 pounds of sugar every year to be exact.
At the same time, they know you know how bad sugar is – basically it makes you fat and wrecks your health, right? – yet you still want a “legal” dose of the sweet stuff. Trot in so-called healthier sugar alternatives, which experts predict will hit a whopping $1.6 billion by 2020.
Emerging among these “healthier” sweeteners is yacón syrup, which Dr. Oz went hysterical about 3 years ago on his show after a study showed overweight women who consumed 3 – 4 teaspoons of yacón syrup lost on average 33 pounds after 4 months.
The study delivers exactly what Dr. Oz claimed: “Daily intake of yacón syrup produced a significant decrease in body weight, waist circumference and body mass index,” researchers concluded about these obese pre-menopausal women with insulin resistance who used Yacón syrup for 120 days.
What is Yacón Syrup?
Yacón (pronounced ya-CONE) syrup comes from the yacón plant, which looks like a yam or sweet potato and grows in the Andes mountains. Most of yacón’s benefits arrive from high amounts of nutrients and prebiotics like inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
Yacón syrup also contains about 35 percent fructose, a simple sugar that provides much of its sweetness but hasn’t exactly garnered a stellar reputation among experts.
Recent studies tie this sugar with numerous problems including chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, pancreatic cancer, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
How Yacón Syrup Can Help You Lose Weight
Despite those problems, high amounts prebiotics like FOS and nutrients in yacón syrup seem to override its relatively high fructose load to help you lose weight.
Other studies verify those benefits. Besides the aforementioned Dr. Oz-plugged one, a human study gave 48 overweight adults oligo-fructose (essentially what yacón is made up of) or a placebo (maltodextrin) for 12 weeks.
While weight loss wasn’t very impressive (a little over 2 pounds, versus the placebo group slightly gaining weight), researchers concluded oligo-fructose could potentially help overweight adults lose weight and improve glucose, perhaps by suppressing hunger hormones like ghrelin.
Other Benefits of Yacón Syrup
Besides weight loss, one study looked at insulin-resistant rats and found yacón could reduce blood glucose and hepatic insulin sensitivity.Other studies show yacón can improve colon transit time, potentially reducing constipation.
At the same time, yacón isn’t exactly a “miracle” sweetener: It’s still sugar, with a moderate fructose load, and I recommend you treat it as such and only use it in small amounts.
There’s No Such Thing as a “Perfect Sweetener”
Some experts and health organizations recommend counting sugar calories or slowly reducing them from your diet, yet completely eliminating all sugars becomes the best way to retrain your body’s neurological response.
Especially if you have any degree of insulin resistance or other blood sugar issues (most of us do), a “little sugar” often opens the floodgates for more sugar.
If you insist on sweeteners – sometimes you want your coffee or tea a little sweet – the herb stevia remains my favorite. Small amounts yacón won’t do any harm and might provide some benefits, but don’t think this becomes an unlimited sweetener. Use yacón syrup judiciously just like you would table sugar.