What is yacon syrup? Should I add it to my diet?
Dr. Oz's recent segment, which involved several women testing out the product as a weight-loss aid, has us all wondering. Yacon syrup is found in the tuberous roots of the yacon plant, which is native to the Andes Mountains. The Incas originally included this molasses-like syrup in their diet.
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Today people in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil tout yacon syrup as a low calorie, low sugar food that can help with diabetes, digestive disorders, and kidney problems. So could this syrup, which is said to taste like raisins or figs, really do all this and aid in weight loss?
The idea is that since this low-calorie (20 calories per tablespoon) syrup is high in prebiotics, including inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), the naturally occurring sugars found in many plants. Since FOS acts as a fiber, it passes through the digestive system and into the colon without being digested, which helps to keep you regular. While in the colon, FOS promotes the good bacteria in the gut, which some studies have associated with digestive healthy, anti-inflammatory properties, and maintaining a healthy weight.
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Like other fiber-containing foods, yacon syrup may also help to keep cholesterol in check, keep blood sugar levels stable, and help to control appetite. Hence the thought that yacon syrup may be beneficial to those who have diabetes or other disorders.
Should you use yacon syrup? Research is very limited at this time. While one small 2009 study published in Clinical Nutrition did find that obese women who took 3-4 teaspoons of yacon syrup each day for four months did have a significant decrease in weight, waist circumference, LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and insulin levels, it should also be noted that these women were also told to walk for 45 minutes and reduce their caloric intake. So these improvements did not occur without diet and exercise.
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If you want to try yacon syrup for its nutritional properties or give it a go to enhance weight-loss, just remember that the syrup is not a “magic pill.” Consuming a balanced, healthy diet and getting regular exercise is still crucial for weight-loss and good health.
Also it should be noted that intake of yacon syrup should be limited to 1 teaspoon before meals, with no more than about 1 tablespoon total consumed each day as too much can lead to bloating, nausea, and diarrhea. As always, if you are pregnant, nursing, or have allergies or other medical concerns, always consult with a doctor before adding anything new, such as yacon syrup, to your daily routine.
This article originally appeared on Self.com.