When you're on a diet, sweets are usually a no-no. Adding sugar or maple syrup to your drinks or prepared foods means adding calories that in turn add inches to your waist. But we also know cutting out every food you enjoy usually means a diet disaster.
Thankfully, if you've got a sweet tooth that just won't quit and pants that won't zip, you're in luck. If you're looking for a new way to add sweetness to your food that actually benefits your health, try some yacon syrup.
What Is Yacon?
Yacon root (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is native to the Andes Mountains in Peru, where it has been used as a food source for centuries. It can now be found growing throughout South America as well as Asia. This tuberous root has an appearance and texture similar to a potato or jicama, but tastes sweet, earning it's nickname the "apple of the earth." It's related to the sunflower as well as the Jerusalem artichoke.
Both the leaves and root of the plant are used. The leaves are often made into a tea and the root is harvested both as a food source on its own or used in the production of syrup. This syrup is used as a natural sweetener, for weight loss and to regulate blood sugar levels, which we'll get to in a minute.
There are additional benefits to consuming yacon. This root has a prebiotic effect, providing nourishment for the friendly or good bacteria within the gut to help them thrive and keep the body in balance. It also contains antioxidants, which prevent oxidative stress and damage from free radicals. Lastly, yacon provides amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein and help to nourish and energize the body.
Yacon and Weight Management
Adding sweetness to your food no longer has to wreck your diet. Yacon is rich in inulin, a type of sugar that cannot be digested by the body. This means the sugar is simply excreted from the body instead of being converted into fat and stored in the body. Instead, it's broken down into fructooligosaccharides (FOS). As a result, yacon is very low on the glycemic index. This also means no dramatic spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels, which can be hazardous for those with diabetes and can send anyone concerned about their weight running for other high calorie or high-sugar foods to pep them up later on in the day.
Physician and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz also praised the benefits of yacon syrup as a daily metabolism booster that helps the body burn fat more rapidly without additional diet and exercise. He asked 60 women to consume just 1 tsp of the syrup before breakfast, lunch and dinner for 28 days. Of the 40 women who just to the plan for the entire four weeks, 73 percent (29 women) lost weight. Of those 29 women, the average weight lost was 2.9 pounds and 14 women lost five pounds or more. They all also lost an average of 1.9 inches around their waist. (Editor's Note: eVitamins is in no way affiliated with "The Dr. Oz Show." Dr. Oz doesn't endorse any specific product or brand.)
A 2009 study published in the medical journal Clinical Nutrition supports this. The study involved 55 premenopausal obese women that consumed between 0.14 and 0.29 g of yacon syrup or a placebo per day (3 to 4 tsp) for 120 days. The women who took the syrup, as opposed to a placebo, lost weight and reported feeling fuller longer without any unpleasant side effects.
How to Use It
Yacon is typically sold as a syrup or concentrate and can also be found in dried form and is recommended both for diabetics and those looking to manage their weight as a natural alternative to refined white cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup. You can consume the syrup or concentrate on its own or use it to add flavor to beverages like iced tea or a smoothie or use it in baking. You can also create delicious marinades and sauces.
The dried yacon root can also be snacked on like any dried fruit or vegetable chip or you can also chop it up and add it to trail mix or to baked goods to add natural sweetness.
Check out our full selection of yacon products at eVitamins and let us know how they work for you!
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