A recent episode of Dr. Oz extolled the virtues of a little-known product known as yacon syrup, referred to as a "game changer" in the weight loss arena. Today we'll look at this product and seek reviews from those who have tried it.
About Yacon Syrup
Yacon syrup is extracted from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant. It contains few calories (about 20 calories in a spoonful) and is low in sugar. The taste has been described as similar to molasses, raisins, or figs. The syrup contains about 30% to 50% of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a natural sweetener which cannot be broken down easily by the human body. It passes through the digestive tract unmetabolized, resulting in a low calorie food. It is also a prebiotic, which feeds healthy flora in the bowels.
Outside of yacon syrup, you can also get FOS from a variety of fruits and vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, bananas, garlic, and onions. FOS is also available as a supplement.
How to Use Yacon Syrup
Take 1 teaspoon of 100% yacon syrup with or before each meal. It can also be used as a sugar substitute, such as in tea or coffee. You can use it in place of syrup or molasses on pancakes or waffles, or add it to oatmeal or fruit. It has been used as an alternative sweetener for diabetics, vegans, and those seeking to reduce sugar intake.
Studies on yacon syrup are limited.
- 2009: A study on obese and pre-menopausal women who took yacon syrup over 4 months resulted in “significant decrease in body weight, waist circumference and body mass index.” (Genta, et al)
- 2013: Dr. Oz presented his results of his experiment in which 29 out of 40 women lost weight by adding yacon syrup to their diet, and made no other changes to their usual daily habits. This was not a clinical study.
Toxicity of yacon leaves
While yacon syrup is extracted from yacon root, it should be noted that yacon leaves are potentially toxic. A 2011 study published in the Journal of ethnopharmacology suggested possible renal damage with long-term use of yacon leaves.
Although research is limited, there have been some encouraging findings, including the following:
- Constipation relief
- Decrease in LDL “bad” cholesterol
- Increase in HDL “good” cholesterol
- Insulin sensitivity improvement
- Weight loss
Dr. Garth Davis pointed out that “the study was just four months. I have seen all kinds of diets work for four months then fail. We see this over and over. They don’t go into enough detail about what diet they utilized. I also would like to know if the yacon group felt nauseated. We see several medicines that cause weight loss mainly because people get sick.”
Possible side effects include:
Where to buy yacon syrup
Almost immediately after the Dr. Oz segment on yacon syrup aired, websites and affiliate marketers began appearing online offering the product. Dr. Oz himself admitted, “There’s going to be a marketing frenzy after this show airs.” When untrusted sources jump onto the latest health product, however, we often find watered-down products loaded with preservatives that barely resemble the marketed item.
Dr. Davis pointed out, “…the public really doesn’t know what they are getting. Next thing you know you have the next acai berry craze. And the crazy thing is that people shell out tons of money for the acai berry juice, loaded with preservatives, when a handful of blueberries is just as good for you.”
Yacon syrup can be found in health food stores, and you are probably better off purchasing it locally to avoid shipping charges and delays, and to be sure you are going through a trusted source. Be sure to purchase 100% pure yacon syrup.
How much does yacon syrup cost?
The price of yacon syrup will vary by brand and vendor, but we have seen it anywhere from $12 to $65.
Alternatives to yacon syrup
Some people opt to skip yacon syrup and simply purchase FOS capsules, typically for a much lower cost. We’ve seen bottles of FOS capsules which range from $8 to $20. You can also find probiotics which contain FOS.
Although there is some evidence that yacon syrup has certain health benefits, it has not been studied extensively and further studies may yield more clues about the effectiveness of the product. It seems best suited for people who are overweight, consume little fiber, suffer constipation, or have high blood sugar. It should be avoided by those with diarrhea.
Purchase locally or from known, trusted sources, and only buy 100% pure yacon syrup.
Have you tried yacon syrup for weight loss? We want to hear from you. Let us know your experience in the comments below.
- Yacon syrup (Wikipedia)
- Yacon syrup: Beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans (Genta, et al: Clinical Nutrition: September 16, 2008)
- Renal toxicity caused by oral use of medicinal plants: the yacon example (de Oliveira, et al: Journal of ethnopharmacology: 2011)
- The Yacon Syrup Project (The Dr. Oz Show: November 1, 2013)
- Expert Respnses to the Yacon Project (The Dr. Oz Show: November 2013)