Yacon Syrup

Yacon Syrup is a natural sweetener from South America. It is made from the Yacon tuber which grows in Peru.

It can also be grown in other parts of the world with similar climates. The sweet part of the plant is the root and it contains Fructooligosaccharides, a type of soluble fiber. It also contains inulin and a small amount of ordinary sugar.

It is sometimes called the Peruvian Ground Apple. The root can be sliced and eaten raw. It tastes a bit like an apple but sweeter. The tuber is ground down to extract the juice which is then heated to reduce the moisture content. The syrup has a very nice caramel taste and is about half as sweet as honey or maple syrup.

The Fructooligosaccharide (FOS) sugars in Yacon are not fully digested. The body treats them as soluble fiber and they pass into the gut where they provide beneficial bulk helping the movement of waste through the intestine. In addition they promote the fermentation of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Consequently they provide only about one third the calories of sugar. Another great benefit is an almost zero glycemic index, making it suitable for diabetics. Tests have also shown other benefits including regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels and improvement in cholestoral levels.

As a sweetener it is not particularly useful. It is expensive, not very sweet and has a distinctive flavor somewhat like figs. In addition it has medicinal qualities, one being constipation relief, but if taken in excess can lead to loose stools.Obviously then, it cannot replace your ordinary sweetener.

More recently it has been hailed as a wonder weight loss supplement. In 2013 Dr Oz presented it on his show as a 'potential new weight loss tool' and presented results of his own tests on a group of  women for 28 days with positive results.

This would appear to be supported in clinical trials.

Dr Ray Sahelian presents a summary of clinical testing, some of which supports the use of Yacon Syrup as a weight loss supplement.

Maximum recommended daily consumption of Yacon Syrup is about 20g per day for an average person. See here for more information.

In a clinical trial 40 women were given approx one teaspoon of the syrup about an hour before each meal for 120 days. They were also advised to stick to a low fat diet. The results showed weight loss as well as improved indicators of cholesterol and insulin response. The results were impressive but other factors may have been at work. While it would be foolish to hail it as a new miracle weight loss supplement, it may have a mild advantage, if taken in the above manner, to help reduce appetite and stimulate metabolism.

Because it is a prebiotic and causes fermentation in the gut it can also cause gas and bloating. This is usually harmless, nevertheless care should be taken to avoid excessive consumption. Over time the body will adapt and greater amount can be consumed without side effects. One teaspoon per day should cause no problem at all, and this may be gradually increased to 5 teaspoons per day. This is the upper recommended daily limit.

It comes from the Yacon tuber from the Andes in Peru. This is ground down to extract the juice. The moisture is evaporated to produce the syrup. In order to qualify as a raw sweetener the temperature during production must not exceed approx 40 degrees centigrade though it is more usually in the range of 50 to 60 degrees.

Sold As:
It is sold in health stores as Yacon Syrup or Yacon Nectar. Also available on Amazon.

How Expensive?
It is not usually used just as a sweetener, more for its health benefits. This is just as well because it is very expensive costing about 30 times as much as sugar or 8 times the price of honey. 

Yacon Syrup Market Share:
It's market share as a sweetener would be virtually zero. It has only recently caught on as a supplement, but is gaining in popularity.

Interesting facts:
Yacon can be safely eaten raw, unlike some other tubers (Potatoes) which must be cooked. Consequently the Yacon Syrup can be described as raw provided a low temperature is used to evaporate the moisture.

The FOS content (the 'good' carbohydrate) can vary considerably. If left in the sun to dry, some of this can be converted naturally into ordinary sugars and the FOS content is lower.

A typical breakdown of the composition of the syrup would be:

Sugar Percentage
FOS 47%
Sucrose 20%
Fructose 7%
Glucose 3%
Protein 1%
Moisture 22%

Source: http://cipotato.org/

However the carbohydrate content can vary, and during harvesting and production some of the FOS can be converted into sugar including fructose. This is true at home as well. If exposed to high temperatures, such as baking, the FOS will break down into fructose and sucrose, making it sweeter, but less useful as a health food. 

It is probably the only truly raw, organic, natural, low calorie, and low glycemic sweetener available.

Does not require approval. 


Conclusions for Yacon Syrup

Amazing natural sweetener with unique properties. It is a prebiotic and contains useful soluble fiber. However because of the fiber content excessive consumption should be avoided. (The same applies to wheat bran!) It is suitable, or even beneficial, for diabetics and it is harmless to teeth. It is a low calorie, low glycemic, natural sweetener with beneficial properties. It has not yet caught on in the western world but it should become very popular in the future as it's qualities become more widely known. For weight loss and medicinal purposes take one teaspoon and hour before meals. Take no more than 5 teaspoons per day.

Name Calories / Gram Sweetness Index Glycemic Index Calories / Spoon-Equiv
Yacon Syrup 1.5 0.5 1 10

Taste: -------- Good
Aftertaste: ---- No.
Concerns: ----- Generally no.

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