Yacon Syrup: Can it Really Help You Lose Weight?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Yacon syrup is derived from the yacon plant. The plant, which is native to the Andes Mountains, is prized for its medicinal benefits. Before discovering the weight loss benefits of the yacon syrup, the yacon plant was used to treat diabetes, kidney disease and digestive problems in South America.

The yacon syrup is extracted from the root of the plant. The extract goes through several chemical-free filtering and processing until the finished product resembles that of maple syrup. The yacon syrup has a sweet taste, medium to dark brown color and viscosity similar to molasses.

The Weight Loss Potentials of Yacon Syrup

Yacon syrup’s weight loss potentials were highlighted by Mehmet Oz. According to the TV doctor, yacon syrup is a “metabolism game changer.” Dr. Oz said that the active compounds in yacon syrup may help speed up fat loss.

Dr. Oz was referring to fructooligosaccharides or FOS. FOS is a type of sugar molecules that are unrecognizable by the digestive system. It can stimulate the taste buds in human beings, but FOS cannot be digested by the body. Unlike glucose or sucrose, FOS makes for an excellent substitute to sugar, but without the unwanted calories. In fact, yacon syrup yields only a third of the caloric value of sugar   or about 20 calories.

In addition, FOS contains inulin. Inulin is a type of fiber that keeps the digestive tract healthy. Although the level of FOS will differ between batches, yacon syrup contains 40% to 50% FOS.

Once it reaches the digestive tract, FOS creates an ideal environment for probiotics to thrive in the large intestines. The optimum level of probiotics in the gut lowers the risk of diabetes. It also improves brain function and strengthens the immune system. When good bacteria feed and digest FOS, they produce short-chain fatty acids with weight loss effects. At least in rats. One study suggests that yacon syrup can also inhibit the production of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. All these may help boost a person’s weight loss efforts.

But is it effective?

The yacon syrup trend essentially rides the popularity of a single research wherein participants who were given the syrup lost weight. The participants lost 33 pounds over a period of 120 days without changing their eating habits. There is no other research that can prove that yacon syrup works. It’s worth noting that the study was just a small clinical trial. The clinical trial is also controversial because it raised more questions than answers, due to the methodology used to draw the conclusions. Most health experts agree, taking yacon syrup does not cause long-term weight loss effects at all.

Also, keep in mind that Dr. Oz recently came under fire for advertising questionable products during his heyday as a TV host. The issue caused a hailstorm of criticisms from fellow health care experts.

In the end, Dr. Oz admitted that some of the products featured on his now-defunct show aren’t scientifically proven to work. He later apologized for his actions and withdrew support from alternative weight loss products he used to support on his show on the condition that he keeps his day job.

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