Facts About the New, Popular Diet Aid

Yacon syrup has become quite popular on the internet and in weight loss circles since it was featured on The Dr. Oz Show in November, 2013.  But as with all fad and/or weight loss products, it is important to know the facts before running out and trying it for ourselves.

First, let's start with Yacon.  Yacon, also known as the Peruvian Ground Apple, is a plant found in South America in the Andes mountains.  The tuberous roots of the plant have been eaten by people in the region for centuries.  The root is reported to be crispy with a sweet taste.

Studies have shown numerous health benefits associated with the consumption of yacon root, yacon root flour, and yacon root syrup.

The benefit that receives the most attention is the roots apparent weight loss properties.  A couple studies have shown that yacon root supplements do indeed promote weight loss.  A 2009 study published in the journal, Clinical Nutrition, concluded that there was a significant decrease in weight, waist circumference and body mass index in their overweight subjects who took the supplement for 120 days.  In November, 2013, The Dr. Oz Show performed a study called "The Yacon Syrup Project".  The results of that study showed that 73% of participants lost weight.  The women averaged 2.9 pounds and 1.9 inches off their waists over the 28 day trial.

Other benefits of taking yacon root supplements have been found.  In 2007, the British Journal of Nutrition published a study that demonstrated improved mineral absorption as well as increased bone mass and strength in subjects taking yacon flour.  The 2009 Clinical Nutrition study found that the syrup treatment group had decreased LDL(bad)-cholesterol levels.  Lastly, studies have shown that the yacon root contains prebiotics which help the digestive system function better.  It is high in insoluble fiber too which helps control constipation.

So what are the side effects of yacon root and is it safe?  Side effects are typically gastrointestinal in nature- diarrhea, increased bowel gas, and nausea.  A 2005 study published in Food and Chemical  Toxicology analyzed the effects of ingestion of yacon flour supplement in rats over a four month period.  They concluded that the yacon flour supplement did not produce any toxic or adverse effects.

It should be noted that yacon plants are related to sunflowers.  People who are allergic to sunflowers or sunflower seeds should not take products containing yacon.  And, as always, women who are pregnant or nursing should consult their physician before taking any medication or supplement.

The early research on yacon root supplements and their beneficial effects on weight loss, cholesterol, and digestive health are promising.  For those who have struggled with these issues in the past, yacon syrup may be an option.