Does a sweet-tasting syrup that only contains 20 calories per teaspoon, tastes great and aids weight loss sound too good to be true? Perhaps, but that is precisely the claims being made about yacon syrup. Dr. Oz is also singing the praises of this natural alternative to sugar. So what is it and, more importantly, does it work?
Yacon syrup is derived from the yacon root which is indigenous to the Andes Mountains. While it is only recently gaining attention in the United States, it has been used for years in Bolivia, Peru and Brazil for its anti-diabetic qualities. Yacon root is mostly fructose-free, so it does not elevate blood glucose levels. It is also believed to help those with kidney disease and digestive disorders.
The majority of the yacon syrup cannot be digested, which is why it only has approximately a third of the caloric value of sugar, or about 133 calories per 100 grams. In other words, about 20 calories per teaspoon. This makes it an excellent low-calorie alternative to sugar. Yacon syrup is one of the best dietary sources of fructooligosaccharides (sugar molecules that are connected in a way that makes them unrecognizable by the digestive system) around. These fructooligosaccharides stimulate the taste buds but cannot be digested, which is why it is so low in actual calories. When these reach the large intestine they feed the "good" bacteria, and this is where the yacon does its magic.
The intestinal bacteria digest the fructooligosaccharides, which produces short-chain fatty acids found to have powerful anti-obesity effects. It also lowers ghrelin, the hormone that affects appetite.
Studies have shown that women using yacon syrup lost dramatically more body weight and inches in waist circumference than women using a placebo.
Another plus is that it actually tastes good. It has the consistency of molasses and has been described as tasting like a combination of molasses and honey.
A word of caution. Start out with small amounts until you find out how your system adapts. If taken in too large amounts it can cause digestive discomfort, gas, nausea or diarrhea. If you are already eating a lot of fiber you are less likely to have these side effects.
Bottom line is this: yacon syrup is natural and healthy and is certainly worth giving it a try. However, like anything else, do not expect it to be a magic pill. You will still have to eat a healthy diet and exercise if you want to lose excess weight.