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Dr. Oz highlights yacon syrup as appetite-suppressing weight loss supplement

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If you're a fan of Dr. Mehmet Oz's talk show, you know that he specializes in superlatives. Now he's proclaiming to have found the ultimate "natural weight loss tool" that he says he sought for more than a year. Featured on his Monday show, is yacon syrup really a metabolism game changer?

Yacon syrup is made from a South American root. Preliminary studies indicated that it could promote weight loss, improve digestion and regulate blood sugar. Forty women tried it for 28 days as part of Dr. Oz's test to see if it lives up to its promises.

The women consumed one teaspoon of yacon syrup before or during each meal. With the exception of the syrup, they were told to eat their regular meals.

More than 70 percent of the women in the test group lost weight. The average: About three pounds, with two inches lost from their waists. About 70 percent of them said they would recommend it for weight loss.

Where to find: Yacon syrup is available in health food stores and online. Check the label: One teaspoon should equal less than 15 calories.

How it works: Yacon syrup contains prebiotics including inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). It serves as a soluble fiber to improve digestion and provides food for "good" bacteria.

Those good bacteria in turn are linked to weight loss benefits. They also help to regulate insulin levels and food intake. As a result, yacon syrup can reduce food cravings and suppress appetite.

About the previous research: A study published in Clinical Nutrition found that women who consumed three to four teaspoons of yacon syrup daily lost an average of 33 pounds over a 120-day period. In addition, they reduced their levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol.

To determine whether yacon syrup really lives up to its hype, Dr. Oz asked several experts to comment on their views. Dr. Neal Barnard, author of "21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health," said he feels that the results of the Clinical Nutrition study are encouraging.

However, Dr. Barnard cautions that it should be used in small amounts. Taking more than the recommended amount can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps. And for those who don't want to spend their money on yacon syrup, Dr. Barnard suggests adding asparagus or artichokes to your diet to get the benefits of FOS.

Dr. Mike Roizen, co-author of "YOU: On A Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management," expressed enthusiasm about the results of Dr. Oz's own 28-day trial. He felt that the longer study also showed favorable benefits.

Not as enthusiastic: Dr. Caroline Apovian and Dr. Lou Aronne. They both feel that additional studies should be done before it is recommended as the next great weight loss discovery.

Yacon syrup is not the only appetite suppressant that Dr. Oz has featured on his show. While the price of the syrup has soared, hulled barley also serves to curb cravings and suppress hunger.

Dr. Oz highlighted barley on a previous episode because it is minimally processed. With only the outermost inedible hull removed, hulled barley "is an all-natural appetite suppressant that can help curb cravings without leaving you wanting,' said Dr. Oz.

Just as with yacon syrup, it helps your digestive system and stabilizes blood sugar. It has more fiber than any whole grain. Studies show that hulled barley can provide you with blood sugar levels 20 to 30 percent lower than other grains.

In addition, the price is significantly lower. One pound of hulled barley is about nine dollars. By comparison, eight ounces of yacon syrup is about $20.

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