Have you ever heard of yacon root? The extract from the yacon root can be used as a low-calorie sweetener and has many health benefits. It’s high in antioxidants and great for digestion. It can be used in the form of syrup or powder.
Let’s look at what yacon actually is and how it can help you be healthier.
What is yacon root?
Yacon is a large perennial plant that originates in South America but it’s also grown in Australia and New Zealand. Now is becoming more popular in Japan, China and even South Korea and you will also find it cultivated in some other countries. Yacon is also known as “aricoma”, “jicama” and “arboloco”.
Yacon root has long been used in folk medicine for treating diabetes, constipation and various other human diseases. There have been some studies which have proven its efficacy for particular conditions and but more studies are needed to confirm some of its beneficial health effects.
Yacon root extract health benefits
The yacon root extract has several health benefits, most of them are due to a type of sugar it contains, called fructooligosaccharide.
Fructooligosaccharides occur naturally in foods such as garlic, onion, asparagus, artichoke, banana and wheat. But the highest concentrations of fructooligosaccharide are found in yacon.
Fructooligosaccharides cannot be digested, so they don’t impact our blood sugar levels.
Fructooligosaccharides are beneficial to health because they are classed as prebiotic which means they support the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. They may also protect us against unhealthy bacteria.
Yacon root extract and cholesterol
If your cholesterol is a little bit on a high side you may want to try yacon extract as it’s been proven to have some positive effects on that.
Fructooligosaccharides that compose yacon help to lower lipid levels and prevent the accumulation of “bad” cholesterol. This aids in the prevention of a wide variety of heart concerns, including coronary heart disease. (source)
Yacon root extract and constipation
This is good news for those who struggle with constipation. Yacon root has been proven to reduce symptoms of constipation and bloating as it helps to increase bowel movements and help you be more regular. This is attributed to its prebiotic effect.
Yacon root for weight loss
There’s been one study which suggested that yacon root extract could be used as a weight loss aid. 55 people participated in this study and all of them were obese women with cholesterol problems and a history of constipation.
The study lasted for 4 months and during this time 40 women took yacon syrup every day while 15 women took a placebo. Both groups were advised to eat a low-fat diet and mildly restrict their calories.
At the end of the study, the women who took yacon syrup lost a significant amount of body weight and have significantly improved their BMI. The consumption of yacon syrup has also resulted in increased stool frequency and feeling of satiety. There was not much difference in body weight for women who took the placebo.
While this study has some exciting results, it was only a small study and more studies are needed to confirm these results before we can say for sure yacon definitely helps with weight loss.
Yacon benefits for diabetes
Yacon root is low in GI which means it doesn’t cause sugar spikes. It actually affects the body so that is has a positive effect on insulin concentrations in blood. Consequently, this helps to lower blood glucose which, in the long term, can help to prevent diabetes.
Yacon and colon cancer prevention
Due to its prebiotic properties, yacon extract positively affects colon in a way that can reduce colon cancer risk. It may even reduce the development of existing colon cancer.
How to use yacon root extract
You can buy yacon root extract in two forms: either as a syrup or as a powder (flour). Both can be used to sweeten your food naturally. You can add the syrup or powder to your porridge or smoothies but I would suggest not using it in your tea/coffee as it gives your drinks a distinctive flavour which you may not like. I personally don’t like using it in my tea but you are welcome to try it if you want.
If you want to use yacon root extract to reduce your appetite, it’s suggested you take it about 30–60 minutes before a meal.
This post is in collaboration with Indigo Herbs.