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What is Yacon Syrup? A Concise Guide to Its Benefits and Uses

Yacon syrup is a natural sweetener derived from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant (Smallanthus sonchifolius), which is indigenous to the Andes mountains. Used by the Incas, yacon syrup has gained popularity due to its low calorie count, low sugar levels, and potential health benefits. The syrup is made from the edible part of the plant, which has a combination of soluble fibers that can offer a variety of positive effects for the body.

The yacon plant, also known as llacon, strawberry jicama, Bolivian sunroot, ground pear, and Peruvian ground apple, grows mainly in South America. Its roots contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a type of fructan which is a soluble dietary fiber. Among other benefits, the soluble fibers help to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut, contributing to improved immune system, anti-inflammation, mood, and possibly even weight loss.

Key Takeaways

  • Yacon syrup is a natural sweetener derived from the Andes mountain’s yacon plant, with low calorie and sugar levels.
  • The yacon plant’s roots contain a unique type of fructan, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which provide soluble dietary fiber.
  • Soluble fibers in yacon syrup can lead to a variety of health benefits, including gut health, immune support, and potential weight loss.

Yacon Syrup Origins

South America

Yacon syrup is a natural sweetener derived from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant (Smallanthus sonchifolius), which is native to South America. In countries like Peru and Bolivia, the yacon plant has been traditionally used for its nutritional properties, as it contains few calories and low sugar levels.

Andes Mountains

The yacon plant finds its origins in the Andes Mountains, a long mountain range that stretches across several South American countries. This region provides an ideal environment for the growth of the yacon, which was even used by the Incas in their time.

Peruvian Ground Apple

In Peru, the yacon plant is commonly referred to as the “Peruvian Ground Apple” because of its nutritional properties and edible tuber. The syrup is made by extracting juice from the tuber and then reducing it to concentrate the sweetness, a process similar to making maple syrup. Aside from its use as a sweetener, the yacon root is eaten as a tuber and can potentially offer health benefits, such as feeding beneficial bacteria in the gut tied to immunity and anti-inflammation.

Bolivian Sunroot

In Bolivia, the yacon plant is known as the “Bolivian Sunroot” and is used not only for its sweet syrup but also for medicinal purposes. The leaves of the plant can be used to make a type of tea, which may provide additional health benefits.

Overall, yacon syrup is a natural, low-calorie sweetener with its roots deeply ingrained in South American culture, particularly in the Andes Mountains region. Its potential benefits, rich history, and unique taste make it an interesting and appealing option for those who appreciate alternative sweeteners.

Yacon Plant

The yacon plant (Smallanthus sonchifolius), also known as the Peruvian ground apple or Bolivian sunroot, is a perennial plant native to the Andes mountains. It is closely related to the sunflower and resembles a sweet potato in its physical appearance. The yacon plant, cultivated for its edible tuberous roots, has been historically used for its nutritional properties and serves as a natural sweetener.


Yacon grows well in various climates and altitudes, thriving in subtropical and temperate regions. It is cultivated in several South American countries like Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The plant prefers well-drained soils and requires a moderate amount of water. Harvesting typically takes place six to seven months after planting, when its aerial parts begin to wither.


The yacon plant has large, green leaves that are somewhat similar to sunflower leaves in their overall shape and appearance. The leaves may have a rough texture and can grow up to 2 meters high. They are arranged in a spiral pattern along the stem. Although the primary focus of cultivation lies in the tuberous roots, the leaves may also have some medicinal properties.

Yacon Root

Yacon root is the main edible part of the plant that is known for its numerous health benefits. It is a tuberous root with a juicy, crisp texture and a mildly sweet taste, often compared to apples or watermelon. Rich in dietary fiber, the yacon root provides a good source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are soluble dietary fibers with prebiotic properties. The syrup extracted from the root, yacon syrup, serves as a sweetening agent with a low-calorie count as well as low sugar levels.

Properties and Nutrients


Yacon syrup is one of the best dietary sources of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a type of fructan. Fructans are a category of soluble dietary fiber. FOS are carbohydrates that are partially absorbed and have a prebiotic effect in the human body, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.


The high concentration of FOS in yacon syrup makes it a natural prebiotic, supporting good gut health. The soluble fibers in yacon syrup have been shown to help feed beneficial bacteria in the gut, which is tied to improved immunity, reduced inflammation, and better mood. Moreover, yacon syrup doesn’t require chemicals for extraction, ensuring that the prebiotic properties are preserved.


Yacon syrup also contains inulin, another form of soluble dietary fiber. Inulin is a fructan and shares similar benefits to FOS, such as promoting healthy gut bacteria. It also has a mildly sweet taste, contributing to yacon syrup as a natural sweetener.


Yacon root contains potassium, an essential mineral that supports many bodily functions. Potassium helps maintain proper electrolyte balance, supports nerve function, and regulates muscle contractions, including heartbeat regulation. Including yacon syrup in one’s diet can contribute to meeting the daily recommended potassium intake.


In addition to potassium, yacon root is also a source of calcium. Calcium is a vital mineral for supporting strong bones and teeth, as well as blood clotting, nerve function, and muscle contractions. Consuming yacon syrup provides a naturally sweet way to supplement calcium intake.


Phosphorus is another mineral present in yacon root. It’s essential in maintaining strong teeth and bones, supporting kidney function, and producing energy in the form of ATP. Consumption of yacon syrup can contribute to the daily recommended intake of phosphorus, promoting overall health.

Health Benefits

Weight Loss Aid

Yacon syrup has been linked to weight loss due to its high fiber content, which can promote feelings of fullness and satisfy the appetite. Additionally, it has been reported to help reduce body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI). However, more research is needed to confirm these results.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Yacon syrup may offer benefits for those managing diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels. The high fiber content and presence of prebiotics may aid in maintaining healthy insulin levels, thereby contributing to improved glucose control.

Digestive Health

Yacon syrup is rich in soluble fibers which support gut health. Prebiotics found in the syrup can feed beneficial bacteria, leading to a better balance of gut flora. This promotes proper digestion, reduces constipation, and supports overall colon health.

Immunity Boosting

The prebiotics present in yacon syrup not only support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria but also boost immunity. A healthy gut is linked to better immunity and anti-inflammation, which can contribute to improved overall health and mood.

Antioxidant Properties

Yacon syrup contains antioxidants that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. By providing protection against oxidative stress, yacon syrup may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases and promote overall well-being.

Potential Side Effects

Yacon syrup, while offering various health benefits, may also come with potential side effects. As with any substance, individual reactions can differ, and it is essential to be aware of these possible side effects when considering the use of yacon syrup.

Discomfort and Bloating: Some people may experience discomfort and bloating due to the ingestion of yacon syrup. This can occur because the syrup is high in soluble fibers known as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which can cause gas production in the gut.

Diarrhea: High consumption of yacon syrup may lead to diarrhea, particularly if your body is not accustomed to the high FOS content in the syrup. Starting with small amounts and gradually increasing your intake can help alleviate this issue.

Nausea and Digestive Upset: Some individuals may experience nausea and other digestive upsets after consuming yacon syrup. This can result from the increased fermentation of FOS in the gut, releasing gas and causing irritation in the gastrointestinal tract.

In summary, while yacon syrup offers several health benefits, it is essential to be aware of potential side effects such as discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and digestive upset. It is always advisable to start with a small amount and monitor your body’s reaction before increasing the intake. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or experience significant side effects.

Yacon Syrup Vs. Other Sweeteners

Maple Syrup

Yacon syrup and maple syrup differ mainly in their source and sugar composition. While yacon syrup is derived from the roots of the yacon plant, maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees. Yacon syrup’s primary sugar is fructooligosaccharide (FOS), a soluble fiber that has a low glycemic index and benefits gut bacteria. On the other hand, maple syrup contains a mix of sucrose, fructose, and glucose, which leads to a higher glycemic index.


Molasses is a byproduct of sugar production and is obtained from sugarcane or sugar beet. It has a thick, dark consistency and a strong, distinct flavor. Compared to yacon syrup, molasses has more vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium. However, molasses also has a higher glycemic index due to its carbohydrate content, whereas yacon syrup’s high FOS content provides a lower glycemic index suitable for diabetics.


Honey, a natural sweetener produced by bees, is primarily composed of fructose and glucose. While yacon syrup provides soluble fibers like FOS, honey contains antioxidants, trace minerals, and vitamins. Both sweeteners are natural, but honey’s higher fructose content makes it a higher-calorie sweetener than yacon syrup. Additionally, the FOS in yacon syrup supports gut health, while honey’s nutritional benefits are more diverse.


Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It is significantly sweeter than sugar, and its calorie count is negligible. Despite being categorized as a natural sweetener, stevia extract is often considered part of the artificial sweetener family. In contrast, yacon syrup is not as sweet as stevia and contains some calories due to its FOS content. Both stevia and yacon syrup are suitable for diabetics, thanks to their low glycemic indexes.

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit, also known as lo han guo, is a natural sweetener derived from the fruit of the Siraitia grosvenorii plant. Like stevia, it is much sweeter than sugar and has negligible calories. However, monk fruit may have a slightly fruity aftertaste compared to yacon syrup’s more neutral flavor. Yacon syrup differentiates itself with its FOS content, which supports gut health, while monk fruit does not have such benefits.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are synthetic substitutes for sugar, commonly used in food and drink products to provide sweetness without the calories. Some well-known examples include aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. Unlike natural sweeteners such as yacon syrup, artificial sweeteners are devoid of nutrients and can be hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. Yacon syrup stands out with its gut health-supporting FOS content and its status as a natural sweetener.

Culinary Uses

Yacon syrup is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of culinary preparations. Its natural sweetness and low calorie content make it an attractive sugar substitute for those looking to reduce their sugar intake or manage their blood sugar levels. In this section, we will explore some common ways to incorporate yacon syrup into your cooking and baking routines.


Yacon syrup can be used as a sugar substitute in baked goods, as it contributes both flavor and moisture to recipes. Due to its viscosity, you may need to adjust the liquid content of your recipe accordingly to achieve the desired texture. Keep in mind that yacon syrup is not as sweet as refined sugar, so you may need to use more of it to achieve the desired level of sweetness. Some popular baking applications include using yacon syrup in cookies, muffins, and sweet breads.


Yacon syrup makes an excellent addition to beverages, particularly smoothies. The syrup can help sweeten your drink without significantly increasing the calorie or carbohydrate content. Moreover, it adds a subtle, earthy flavor that complements the natural taste of fruits and vegetables used in smoothies. Yacon syrup can also be used to sweeten teas and coffee, providing a healthier alternative to traditional sweeteners.


In addition to baked goods, yacon syrup can be used as a natural sweetener in various dessert recipes. The syrup’s rich, caramel-like flavor and thick consistency make it ideal for use in sauces, dressings, and more. For instance, you can drizzle yacon syrup over ice cream, yogurt, or fruit for a simple and healthy dessert option.


There are many recipes that take advantage of yacon syrup’s unique properties and taste. Some examples include:

  • Yacon syrup granola: Replace traditional sweeteners with yacon syrup in your homemade granola recipe for a lower-calorie, lower-sugar option.
  • Yacon syrup salad dressing: Combine yacon syrup with vinegar, olive oil, and your choice of herbs for a delicious and healthy salad dressing.
  • Yacon-glazed carrots: Cook sliced carrots in a pan with a bit of butter, then add yacon syrup and cook until glazed and tender.

By incorporating yacon syrup into your cooking and baking, you can enjoy its various health benefits while still satisfying your sweet tooth. Its versatility makes it easy to experiment with and find new ways to enjoy this natural sweetener in your everyday recipes.

Additional Considerations

Yacon syrup is a sweet liquid extracted from the juice of yacon, a root vegetable. It has gained attention for its potential health benefits, especially for those looking to reduce sugar consumption. The syrup is rich in soluble fibers, which are known to promote friendly bacteria in the gut. These bacteria are linked to various health benefits, including improved immunity, reduced inflammation, and possibly even weight loss, making it a unique ingredient for obese individuals looking to improve their health.

The low glycemic index of yacon syrup makes it a suitable alternative for diabetics or those seeking to reduce their sugar intake. Consuming it instead of traditional sweeteners may help manage blood sugar levels and reduce serum insulin levels, resulting from its hypoglycemic properties.

In addition to its prebiotic effects, yacon syrup might also provide benefits related to bone health. Some studies suggest that the fermentation process of yacon helps improve calcium absorption, which could positively impact bone density. However, more research is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.

Yacon syrup can be used in various ways, such as a sweetener for beverages or an ingredient in baked goods. It’s often available in health food stores, along with other natural sugar alternatives. Those interested in experimenting with yacon syrup should be aware that it’s not meant to be consumed in large quantities, as excess consumption can lead to digestive discomfort.

It’s worth noting that while the syrup is derived from the roots of the yacon plant, the leaves of yacon have also been utilized for their potential medicinal properties. Nevertheless, always consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating new ingredients or supplements into your diet, especially if you have any existing health concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does yacon syrup aid in weight loss?

Yacon syrup may help with weight loss because it carries soluble fibers that provide the body with gut-friendly bacteria, which are often tied to immunity and anti-inflammation. However, it’s essential to note that yacon syrup should be consumed as part of a balanced diet and should not be considered a miracle weight loss solution.

What are the benefits and side effects of yacon syrup?

Yacon syrup has potential benefits such as providing gut-friendly bacteria, improving immunity, and potentially aiding in weight loss. However, excessive consumption of yacon syrup can cause side effects like abdominal discomfort, gas, and diarrhea. Always consume it in moderation.

What do users say in yacon syrup reviews?

Users of yacon syrup often mention its natural sweetness and molasses-like texture. Many mention it as an alternative to refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, especially considering its potential health benefits. Some users may experience gastrointestinal discomfort due to excessive consumption, so moderation is key.

Can diabetics use yacon syrup safely?

Yacon syrup is not metabolized in the liver like fructose, and it contains non-digestible carbohydrates. This characteristic makes it a safer sweetener option for diabetics, compared to traditional sugar. However, it is essential for diabetics to consult their healthcare provider before consuming yacon syrup to make sure it is safe for their condition.

How does yacon syrup taste?

Yacon syrup has a dark, sweet taste, with a texture similar to molasses. It can be used as a natural sweetener in various recipes and beverages.

How does yacon syrup compare to sugar?

Yacon syrup is a healthier alternative to refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. It contains soluble fibers, which provide gut-friendly bacteria that promote immunity and may help with weight loss. While yacon syrup provides natural sweetness, it should still be consumed in moderation to avoid any potential gastrointestinal side effects.