Yacon

Last Updated: September 28 2022

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a tuber, whose syrup contains a large amount of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are carbohydrates that are partially absorbed and prebiotic in nature. Yacon may have benefits for intestinal health and may reduce appetite, but studies on it are limited.

Yacon is most often used for

Summary

Yacon is a name used to refer to the plant Smallanthus sonchifolius, which is a tuber vegetable (similar to a potato) and a common food product in South America. It looks like a sweet potato and tastes like a pear. While the tuber itself is used in cooking, a syrup derived from the tuber (called yacon syrup) is used as an alternative sweetener.

This vegetable is also sometimes called the 'diet potato,' which is thought to be related to its fructooligosaccharide (FOS) content. The FOS benefits gut health and has a prebiotic effect, and they may also have a minor appetite suppressing effect in the obese, which reduces food intake. It is thought to be a good dietary supplement, since its production costs are low and yield is high, so it may be one of the most financially feasible sources of dietary FOS while possibly deter sugar consumption, as yacon syrup itself is sweet.

Human studies on yacon are currently limited. One study supports a weight loss effect, which may be due to a reduction in consumed calories, while the other study noted that yacon possesses an anti-motility property (slowing intestinal transit time down) which is known to reduce appetite somewhat. These properties are thought to be related to the FOS content, and are similar to the benefits of FOS from other sources.

Rodent studies suggest proliferation of the 'good' bacteria in the colon in accordance with yacon's prebiotic effects, as well as an increase in mineral uptake from the colon, the latter of which is beneficial for bone health. These properties are not yet proven in humans with, but thought to occur since they have been noted to occur in humans with any other source of FOS.

There is a tea product made from the leaves of yacon, which is said to be anti-diabetic. There is no human evidence for this claim and due to at least one study noting kidney damage associated with the tea (kidney damage tends to reduce glucose levels in the blood), it is thought that this underlies the supposed anti-diabetic effects and consumption of the tea is not recommended.

What else is Yacon known as?
Note that Yacon is also known as:
  • Smallanthus sonchifolius
  • Yacon Syrup
  • Aicama
  • Jicama
  • Diet potato
  • yacon potato
  • yacon strawberry
Examine Database
References
1.^Valentová K, Ulrichová JSmallanthus sonchifolius and Lepidium meyenii - prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseasesBiomed Pap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub.(2003 Dec)
3.^Valentová K, Stejskal D, Bartek J, Dvorácková S, Kren V, Ulrichová J, Simánek VMaca (Lepidium meyenii) and yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) in combination with silymarin as food supplements: in vivo safety assessmentFood Chem Toxicol.(2008 Mar)
4.^Genta S, Cabrera W, Habib N, Pons J, Carillo IM, Grau A, Sánchez SYacon syrup: beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humansClin Nutr.(2009 Apr)
5.^Aybar MJ, Sánchez Riera AN, Grau A, Sánchez SSHypoglycemic effect of the water extract of Smallantus sonchifolius (yacon) leaves in normal and diabetic ratsJ Ethnopharmacol.(2001 Feb)
6.^Honoré SM, Cabrera WM, Genta SB, Sánchez SSProtective effect of yacon leaves decoction against early nephropathy in experimental diabetic ratsFood Chem Toxicol.(2012 May)
8.^Hermann M, Freire I, Pazos CCompositional Diversity of the Yacon Storage PlantCIP Prog Rep.(1997-1998)
9.^Caetano BF, de Moura NA, Almeida AP, Dias MC, Sivieri K, Barbisan LFYacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) as a Food Supplement: Health-Promoting Benefits of FructooligosaccharidesNutrients.(2016 Jul 21)
11.^Mercado MI, Coll Aráoz MV, Grau A, Catalán CANew acyclic diterpenic acids from yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) leavesNat Prod Commun.(2010 Nov)
12.^Genta SB, Cabrera WM, Mercado MI, Grau A, Catalán CA, Sánchez SSHypoglycemic activity of leaf organic extracts from Smallanthus sonchifolius: Constituents of the most active fractionsChem Biol Interact.(2010 Apr 29)
14.^Hong SS, Lee SA, Han XH, Lee MH, Hwang JS, Park JS, Oh KW, Han K, Lee MK, Lee H, Kim W, Lee D, Hwang BYMelampolides from the leaves of Smallanthus sonchifolius and their inhibitory activity of lps-induced nitric oxide productionChem Pharm Bull (Tokyo).(2008 Feb)
16.^Takenaka M, Yan X, Ono H, Yoshida M, Nagata T, Nakanishi TCaffeic acid derivatives in the roots of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)J Agric Food Chem.(2003 Jan 29)
17.^Simonovska B, Vovk I, Andrensek S, Valentová K, Ulrichová JInvestigation of phenolic acids in yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) leaves and tubersJ Chromatogr A.(2003 Oct 17)
18.^Yan X, Suzuki M, Ohnishi-Kameyama M, Sada Y, Nakanishi T, Nagata TExtraction and identification of antioxidants in the roots of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)J Agric Food Chem.(1999 Nov)
20.^Campos D, Betalleluz-Pallardel I, Chirinos R, Aguilar-Galvez A, Noratto G, Pedreschi RPrebiotic effects of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius Poepp. & Endl), a source of fructooligosaccharides and phenolic compounds with antioxidant activityFood Chem.(2012 Dec 1)
21.^Keiichi G, Katsuhiko F, Junko H, Fumio N, Yukihiko HIsolation and Structural Analysis of Oligosaccharides from Yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia)Biosci Biotech Biochem.(1995 Dec)
22.^Balakrishnan M, Floch MHPrebiotics, probiotics and digestive healthCurr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care.(2012 Nov)
23.^Pedreschi R, Campos D, Noratto G, Chirinos R, Cisneros-Zevallos LAndean yacon root (Smallanthus sonchifolius Poepp. Endl) fructooligosaccharides as a potential novel source of prebioticsJ Agric Food Chem.(2003 Aug 27)
26.^Delzenne NM, Kok NEffects of fructans-type prebiotics on lipid metabolismAm J Clin Nutr.(2001 Feb)
27.^Kok N, Roberfroid M, Robert A, Delzenne NInvolvement of lipogenesis in the lower VLDL secretion induced by oligofructose in ratsBr J Nutr.(1996 Dec)
28.^Fiordaliso M, Kok N, Desager JP, Goethals F, Deboyser D, Roberfroid M, Delzenne NDietary oligofructose lowers triglycerides, phospholipids and cholesterol in serum and very low density lipoproteins of ratsLipids.(1995 Feb)
30.^Delzenne NM, Roberfroid MRPhysiological Effects of Non-Digestible OligosaccharidesLWT Food Sci Tech.(1994 Feb)
31.^Wright RS, Anderson JW, Bridges SRPropionate inhibits hepatocyte lipid synthesisProc Soc Exp Biol Med.(1990 Oct)
35.^Barcellona CS, Cabrera WM, Honoré SM, Mercado MI, Sánchez SS, Genta SBSafety assessment of aqueous extract from leaf Smallanthus sonchifolius and its main active lactone, enhydrinJ Ethnopharmacol.(2012 Nov 21)
42.^Rodrigues FC, Castro AS, Rodrigues VC, Fernandes SA, Fontes EA, de Oliveira TT, Martino HS, de Luces Fortes Ferreira CLYacon flour and Bifidobacterium longum modulate bone health in ratsJ Med Food.(2012 Jul)
44.^Delgado GT, Thomé R, Gabriel DL, Tamashiro WM, Pastore GMYacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)-derived fructooligosaccharides improves the immune parameters in the mouseNutr Res.(2012 Nov)
47.^Hosoya N, Dhorranintra B, Hidaka HUtilization of {U14C}Fructooligosaccharides in Man as Energy ResourcesJ Clin Biochem Nutr.(1988)
49.^Geyer M, Manrique I, Degen L, Beglinger CEffect of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) on colonic transit time in healthy volunteersDigestion.(2008)
50.^de Oliveira RB, de Paula DA, Rocha BA, Franco JJ, Gobbo-Neto L, Uyemura SA, dos Santos WF, Da Costa FBRenal toxicity caused by oral use of medicinal plants: the yacon exampleJ Ethnopharmacol.(2011 Jan 27)
52.^Ohta A, Ohtsuki M, Hosono A, Adachi T, Hara H, Sakata TDietary Fructooligosaccharides Prevent Osteopenia After Gastrectomy in RatsJ Nutr.(1998 Jan)
53.^Della Lucia CM, Vaz Tostes Md, Silveira CM, Bordalo LA, Rodrigues FC, Pinheiro-Sant'Ana HM, Martino HS, Costa NMIron bioavailability in Wistar rats fed with fortified rice by Ultra Rice technology with or without addition of yacon flour (Smallanthus sonchifolius)Arch Latinoam Nutr.(2013 Mar)
55.^Yun EY, Kim HS, Kim YE, Kang MK, Ma JE, Lee GD, Cho YJ, Kim HC, Lee JD, Hwang YS, Jeong YYA case of anaphylaxis after the ingestion of yaconAllergy Asthma Immunol Res.(2010 Apr)