What is Yacon?
Yacon also known as the Peruvian ground apple due to its sweetness and texture is a root that grows in the South American Andes Mountains. When the name is translated it roughly means “watery root”. The native peoples have been eating and using this sweet tasting tuber in their cooking for hundreds of years. Some have even said that it was once a staple of the Incan diet. The truly amazing thing about it is that because it is a sweet root similar in shape to a sweet potato, its extract is a healthy substitute for sugar because it has no traditional sugar in it. This makes it an almost perfect source for a low calorie sweetener.
Is Yacon Syrup Healthy?
Yacon syrup has seen a surge of popularity thanks to Dr. Oz a famous doctor and television personality and his Yacon Project. He asked a total of forty women to take the supplement for a total of 4 weeks. The parameters of the project were simple. They were asked to take one teaspoon of the extract before each meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) and then record the results. The women then reported back and the results were impressive.
- There was an average waistline reduction of nearly 1.9 inches
- 29 women lost weight
- The average weight loss was almost three pounds
- 14 of them lost more than five pounds
- The women lost a cumulative total of 153 pounds
- 27 of them recommended that yacon would be a weight loss supplement.
Other more scientific studies have been done and found that while yacon can be used as weight loss supplement it also has other beneficial properties. Thanks to fructooligosaccharides or FOS which are similar in taste to sugar but are not digestible it can be used as a low calorie sweetener when used in its healthy syrup form. You may have heard of FOS before because it is a common ingredient used as a probiotic in yogurts that are marketed as high in probiotic compounds. The inherent problem with the FOS provided in yogurt is that they are placed into it as a food additive rather than it being a naturally occurring compound within yogurt. Another great advantage of adding a high FOS is that the beneficial bacteria in your gut feed off of it, while more of the bad bacteria in your digestive tract feed on the traditional fructose based sugars in your system.
Is Yacon Syrup Fructose based?
On some health sites people have stated Yacon Syrup is not a healthy product because it is high in fructose. This is a common myth about the product because of the fact that the sweetness of it is derived from fructooligosaccharides or FOS for short. Fructose and FOS are not the same thing. Fructose is broken down in the liver and converted to a simple sugar while FOS are non-digestible and pass through the digestive tract of the body virtually unchanged.
Yacon has a whole host of positive side effects. These range from helping people to lose weight, lowering blood sugar levels, and even increasing the body’s metabolism. Here are some of the known benefits of adding it to your diet.
It has a high dietary fiber content. Many people understand the advantages of having a diet high in fiber as it helps with digestive related health issues. This coupled with the probiotic FOS helps individuals with frequent problems with indigestion, irregular bowel movements and other lower digestive issues.
It improves immune system function. The beneficial bacteria in your gut are an important part of your immune system. The FOS contained within Yacon help to feed these bacteria while denying the bad bacteria the fructose they need to survive.
It contributes to appetite suppression. Studies have shown that the consumption of yacon can reduce the feelings of hunger in most people. This causes individuals to eat less and the body has to consume more of its calorie reserves to function. This coupled with the boost in metabolism which is also associated with yacon combines to accelerate weight loss even further.
Types of Yacon Supplements
Yacon extract can be found in multiple forms. It is most commonly taken for its dietary benefits in the form of a capsule. The pill is for those people who want to use it as a probiotic and weight loss supplement. The capsules may contain either the distilled syrup, or ground powder. If you do not want to use the actual syrup as a sweetening agent for your tea or other beverage this would probably be the best option for you.
Yacon molasses is the distilled form of the extract and is created by crushing the plant and extracting the juices. Once the juices have been removed from the solid part of the plant they are distilled by heating the juice until it is boiling. You should be very careful in choosing which molasses you wish to buy because if the product is distilled at over 120 degrees celcius the FOS are broken down into simple sugars and it loses some of its dietary health benefits, especially for those with Diabetes.