Yacon Syrup -- Top 10 Pros and Cons

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June 11, 2014

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board.]

What on earth is yacon syrup? If you are interested in
losing weight or keeping your digestive system healthy
then you need to find out.

Yacon syrup is a sticky substance, similar to molasses or
caramelized sugar, which tastes a little like raisins or figs. It
comes from the roots of the yacon plant that originates in
the Andes mountains.

Popular belief has it that the Incas used yacon. Today,
Peruvians and Bolivians regularly consume yacon syrup for
its nutritional benefits. Others in South American make tea
from the dried leaves of the yacon plant.

All around the world, yacon is being touted as a low-
calorie, low-sugar sweetener that can help people suffering
from obesity, diabetes, kidney problems and digestive
disorders. Could a spoonful of yacon syrup really help you
lose weight? What about those other health claims – too
good to be true? Here’s more about yacon syrup and the
advantages and disadvantages of getting your sweet fix
from this natural source.

What are the Yacon Health Benefits?

Yacon syrup is low in calories and high in prebiotics
including naturally occurring sugars such as inulin and
fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Fructooligosaccharides have
fibrous qualities and therefore could help your digestive
function by promoting the development of good bacteria in
your gut.

Yacon, with its fiber-like fructooligosaccharides, may also
help lower your cholesterol and maintain healthy blood
sugar levels. It can also help to control your appetite –
hence the weight loss claims.

However, there are disadvantages to consuming yacon due
to its composition, particularly when you consume a lot.
These problems are concerned with the digestive system –
too much yacon can have unpleasantly smelling after-
effects. But is yacon dangerous? Can it cause health

We looked at the recent scientific evidence surrounding
yacon and yacon syrup to bring you the Top 10 definitive
pros and cons of this food.

Yacon Can Help You Lose Weight?

Yacon syrup is sweet but very low in calories – around 20
calories per tablespoon. Yacon has made a reputation for
itself as a weight-loss aid and several informal “studies”
have taken place on TV where women take a tablespoon of
yacon syrup before meals and lose pounds every week.

As with many purported weight-loss miracles, the evidence
for the claims is slim (pun intended).

In the case of yacon, a 2009 study from the National
University of Tucumán, Argentina found that daily intake of
yacon syrup resulted in a significant decrease in body
weight as well as reduction in waist circumference and
body mass index for the obese women in the 120-day trial.

Yacon Syrup Helps Prevent Constipation

Yacon syrup can help you if you suffer from constipation.
According to a 2008 study from University Hospital Basel,
Switzerland 20g of yacon syrup a day dramatically
increased speed of colon transit – those people in the study
found relief from constipation and passed softer stools.

There were few side effects but some in the study did
suffer from
bloating, a common effect from ingesting

Control Diabetes Better with Yacon Syrup

Yacon has the potential to help people with diabetes
effectively control their insulin levels, according to experts.

The fructooligosaccharides in yacon syrup enhances tissue
sensitivity to insulin and can help regulate insulin levels and
also curb overeating.

A 2011 study from the National University of Tucumán,
Argentina found yacon flour helped regulate insulin levels
in diabetic rats.

And a 2009 study from the same university showed that
yacon syrup decreased fasting serum insulin in obese,
diabetic women.

Yacon Syrup Acts as a Prebiotic for Micro-Balance in the

Those handy fructooligosaccharides also help good bacteria
grow and thrive in your gut, according to experts. These
beneficial bacteria have anti-inflammatory effects and may
boost the immune system.

A 2013 study from the National University of Tucumán,
Argentina reported that yacon flour helps regulate the
micro-balance of bacteria in the gut and has an immune-
boosting effect without an inflammatory side effect.

Yacon Syrup is an Antioxidant

A 2002 study from Czech University of Agriculture in
Prague, Czech Republic found a syrup made from the yacon
plant was a better antioxidant than a similar syrup or
solution made from mushroom, potato, burdock, or
eggplant. The antioxidant effect of yacon syrup may be
useful for protecting the body against damage by free
radicals. (Read more about
tips for detoxifying your life.)

Consuming Yacon Can Improve the Immune System

The prebiotic and antioxidant powers of yacon syrup
enhance the immune system – so say scientists from the
University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil in a 2012 study.

Because of its high concentration of fructooligosaccharides,
yacon is used as a substitute for sugar for people with
diabetes or weight problems, and researchers state that
daily consumption of yacon syrup has an anti-inflammatory
effect, improves immunity, and therefore may be of benefit
for preventing the risks associated with autoimmune and
metabolic diseases.

Yacon Syrup Causes Kidney Damage?

However, not everything connected with yacon is positive.

A 2011 study from Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
showed that yacon can cause renal toxicity when
repeatedly administered in a solution – the rats in the study
were fed yacon extract in a tea and experienced renal

However, researchers noted that the problem was
associated with the leaves of the yacon plant and not
necessarily with the root.

This potential kidney damage associated with yacon leaves
should give you pause. More studies are needed. In the
meantime, if you have kidney damage ---perhaps from
diabetes --- you should err to the side of caution and avoid

8. Yacon Syrup Enhances Calcium Absorption….

Consuming yacon appears to help calcium in the body
become more bioavailable, leading to maximum benefits
from the essential nutrient. When calcium is more readily
available in your bloodstream it can help to prevent
fractures and osteoporosis.

A 2012 study from the Federal University of Vicosa/UFV,
Brazil showed yacon flour in combination with a probiotic
(Bifidobacterium longum) “helped increase the
concentration of minerals in bones, an important factor in
the prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis.”

9. ….
But has no Effect on Iron or Zinc

Scientists from Federal University of Espirito Santo, Brazil in
2014 discovered that yacon improved intestinal immune
system response in young children but did not have any
effect on the status of iron and zinc in children who were
overweight with an inadequate dietary intake of these

Warning – Yacon Can Cause Intestinal Distress

You may want to avoid yacon syrup if you suffer from
intestinal problems or loose stools as in large doses it can
flatulence, diarrhea, bloating and nausea. Don’t take
more than one tablespoon in total per day. Consult your
doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and want to try
yacon syrup.

As with all natural remedies and weight-loss aids, it is best
to take all claims with a pinch of salt. The evidence for
yacon syrup health benefits is small, and it is not a magic
solution. Try yacon alongside a healthy diet and regular
exercise and you may see a drop in weight.

The Food and Drug Administration has not issued any
warnings ---yet -- about the use of yacon syrup. Ordinarily,
the FDA takes a wait-and-see approach with respect to
natural foods and supplements, so long as no consumers
are injured, hospitalized or harmed in any way and the
product is not making unsubstantiated health claims.  Also,
as of today, no organization has set a recommended daily
allowance target or "safe level" of yacon syrup, so we do
not know whether in high levels yacon root or syrup are
toxic or not.

We will keep you updated as developments and new
studies occur.

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