Today we're bringing you an update on a new and popular dietary substitute: yacon syrup. This syrup is derived from a tuber that is sometimes referred to as the ‘Diet Potato.’ It adds some healthy fructooligosaccharides (FOS) to your diet and is useful as a sugar substitute, due to its sweetness.
The research on the composition of this syrup shows that it is a source of FOS, which is a prebiotic fiber also found in vegetables like the Jerusalem artichoke and chicory. While there is nothing remarkable about the FOS in yacon, it is a cheap and palatable option, when in a sweet syrup form. The syrup does contain calories and fiber, so it should be seen as a vegetable, rather than a supplement.
Most, if not all, benefits of yacon are due to the FOS and thus replicated by other sources of plentiful FOS. These benefits come from the effect of FOS on intestinal bacteria and through the standard properties of dietary fiber. The benefits of yacon are more practical than they are doused in impressive biochemistry, as consumption of the syrup seems to suppress appetite (like many soluble fibers), which can lead to weight loss.
There are not many human studies on yacon, but we have confirmed an attenuation in intestinal motility (how long it takes a food to get from point A to point B) and weight loss properties, when yacon was paired with a weight loss diet. The one study we have with weight loss results is a bit lackluster, due to poor calorie tracking (the study did not disclose much good data), but it is in consensus with previous data on other FOS sources.
The magnitude of weight loss reported in that single study was greater than one would expect with yacon. Since previous research on FOS did not observe such an effect and the study had poor calorie tracking protocols, it is possible that the weight loss was a gross overestimate. While yacon is likely to be a good adjuvant to a weight reducing diet, it is unlikely to be a magic bullet by any means.
Yacon is a viable alternative sweetener that can be used in meals to boost your daily fiber intake.