Looking for a healthier alternative to regular table sugar? Preferably one that doesn't cause a craving for sweets and even has a positive effect on your health? If you agree with these statements, you should definitely read this article.
In this yacon test 2021 you will find out why it is worth sweetening food and drinks with yacon or yacon products. It mentions the positive health effects, possible side effects and how you can grow yacon in your own garden.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important
- 3 Yacon: Our Selection
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for yacon products
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about yacon products answered in detail
- 5.1 What is yacon?
- 5.2 What are the positive effects of yacon?
- 5.3 What are the side effects of yacon?
- 5.4 When and for whom is the consumption of yacon useful?
- 5.5 How much yacon should you consume daily?
- 5.6 What types of yacon products are there?
- 5.7 What are the alternatives to yacon?
- 5.8 How can I grow yacon myself?
The most important
- The Incas already used the tubers of yacon as a remedy, medicine and food. Today it is primarily used as a sweetener or sugar substitute, but studies show that yacon has numerous positive effects.
- You have the option of taking yacon in different forms. In addition to the plant itself, you can choose between yacon syrup or yacon powder, depending on how you want to use yacon.
- However, yacon and yacon products are not only used as a sweetener. Numerous studies confirm the positive effects on diabetes, weight loss or even problem-free intestinal function.
Yacon: Our Selection
Buying and evaluation criteria for yacon products
In this section we will explain what you should look for when buying Yacon products. The criteria are as follows:
If you buy the product that suits you best, you will save money on the one hand, and on the other hand you will be able to take advantage of the potential benefits and positive effects of Yacon products. If you take our recommendations into account when buying, you will surely find the best product for you.
You have the possibility to consume Yacon in different forms. It is up to you to decide which form you prefer. If you can consume all of these forms without problems, then you have the possibility to diversify your yacon consumption.
One of the most popular yacon products is yacon syrup. Due to its similar texture, it is often used as a substitute for honey.
Due to its easy dosage and inexpensive packaging, it is one of the most popular options. It is no coincidence that there is a very wide range of yacon syrups on the market.
The second most popular and widely used form of yacon is powder. In this form, it is mainly used to prepare desserts and cakes, but is also a popular alternative when drinking coffee.
The powder and the syrup are usually available in the same portion. Since yacon is a plant, it can also be bought in this form. It is especially recommended if you want to supplement your dishes with this extremely healthy vegetable.
Country of origin
Most yacon products come from Peru. A separate industry has been established for the production of these products. However, not all products come from Peru. It is therefore worth checking the country of origin before buying. Most high-quality yacon products come from Peru.
However, it is important to note that although yacon itself comes from Peru, some manufacturers only import the ingredients from there and then produce the product in another country such as Germany.
If you want to support local producers, buy a yacon product that is made exclusively in Peru.
Number of servings
As with all products, yacon products come in different sizes. As yacon usually has a very sweet taste, you don't need to use a lot of it, so an average packaged syrup or powder can last up to several months.
The majority of syrups are available in 250 grams. This is also sufficient for most people because, as mentioned, it gives a strong sweet taste to the food.
However, there are manufacturers who also sell yacon syrup in 450 gram packs. These are recommended especially for large families.
250 grams of syrup does not sound much at first, but it will last for several months.
Yacon powder is available in packs of 200 to 250 grams. However, this only applies to pure yacon powder, as yacon powder may contain cocoa or cinnamon, for example. In these cases, packs of 500 grams or more are also not uncommon.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you cannot only buy pure yacon powder or syrup. Some manufacturers supplement their products by adding cocoa powder or cinnamon. Yacon-sweetened products are also available.
However, if you want to get the most out of yacon consumption, we can offer you pure yacon products. If you are not convinced by these products, a yacon-sweetened product may also be a good choice for you.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about yacon products answered in detail
In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of yacon and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.
What is yacon?
The tubers of this plant are used to make syrup and powder. The tubers look similar to sweet potatoes. The taste of the tubers is also sweet, which is why they are often used as an ingredient in numerous dishes.
The use of yacon has a long tradition. As already mentioned, they are often called Inca root, when the Incas used the tubers as a remedy, medicine and food.
The positive effects of the plant were discovered several thousand years ago. Yacon syrup and powder are among the healthiest substitutes for household sugar.
As yacon is very high in carbohydrate. But not in the form of starch like the two tubers mentioned above, but in the form of so-called fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
What are the positive effects of yacon?
Effect on intestinal health
The FOS and insulin found in the yacon root cannot be digested. So these nutrients can use their positive effects in the intestine. This increases the number of good bacteria, which can lead to improved intestinal health. (1)
This study from 2008 wanted to find out whether yacon syrup had an effect on intestinal transit time. A total of 16 people took part in the two-week study, 8 of whom consumed 20 g of syrup per day and 8 nothing.
The results of the study showed that transit time through the gastrointestinal tract was significantly reduced. Yacon significantly accelerated intestinal transit in healthy subjects. (2)
Effect on calcium supply
A 2012 study investigated the relationship between yacon consumption and healthy bones. The experiment was conducted on rats and the results show that the consumption of yacon had a positive effect on bone health.
The simultaneous use of Yacon and Bifidobacterium longum led to an even more significant result. (3)
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, yacon improves the absorption of vitamins in the intestinal tract. It also has an indirect effect on calcium. Since calcium is more easily absorbed thanks to yacon, more calcium reaches the bones, which means you can have healthier bones. (1)
Effect on diabetes and blood lipid levels
This 2017 study looked at the positive effects of yacon syrup consumption. The participants consumed 8g of FOS and the study lasted 2 weeks.
The results show that yacon syrup has a positive effect on appetite and that its effect is significantly dependent on gender and the duration of the intervention.
Yacon is helpful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes or in controlling the current high prevalence of overweight or obesity. (4)
A study from 2009 showed that the consumption of yacon syrup has a positive effect on insulin resistance.55 overweight women with cholesterol problems and constipation participated in the 4-month study.
During the 4 months, the women were asked to follow a low-fat and also low-calorie diet plan. 40 women consumed yacon syrup (between 0.14 to 0.29 grams per kilogram of body weight) during the 4 months, and 15 women were the placebo group.
The results of the study show that the women who consumed yacon syrup lost 15 kilos, whereas the placebo group gained 1.6 kilos.
In addition, fasting insulin levels dropped by 42 percent in those women who took the yacon syrup. The insulin resistance of the cells was reduced by 67 percent. The previously high cholesterol levels dropped by 29 percent to below 100 mg/dL. (5)
What are the side effects of yacon?
Yacon consumption has been the subject of several studies, but the results do not show any particular disadvantages. Excessive or inappropriately high doses, on the other hand, can cause unpleasant side effects, but these are not supported by any research.
It has been reported that high yacon consumption can cause flatulence, stomach upset or diarrhoea. For this reason, you may want to consume a smaller amount of yacon first to see what reaction yacon causes your body.
However, two studies have shown that consuming a normal amount of yacon has no side effects.
In a 4-month study on rats in 2005, rats were given two different doses of yacon root. No side effects were reported with higher doses either. (6)
The results of another study from 2009 show that 120 days of yacon consumption caused side effects in only one case, but this was due to an allergic reaction. (7)
When and for whom is the consumption of yacon useful?
Yacon consumption is primarily recommended for those who want to improve their digestion and intestinal health.
As mentioned earlier, yacon is a great source of FOS. Due to the high intake of yacon, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli multiply more easily in the intestinal tract, improving digestion and the health of the colon and small intestine respectively. (12)
In addition, consuming yacon also reduces appetite, which can indirectly help with weight loss. You can read the research that supports this in the section on positive effects.
The results of the experiment showed that subjects who consumed yacon syrup achieved significant weight loss and significantly improved their health. (5)
As yacon has a low glycaemic index, it does not significantly increase insulin levels. Foods with a low glycaemic index do not cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Since the insulin level does not fluctuate, the ability to concentrate also remains constant, which avoids cravings for sweets. This can even indirectly lead to weight loss.(13)
Although scientific sources do not prove when it is worth consuming yacon, some reports suggest that if yacon is taken 30 to 60 minutes before a meal, it can significantly reduce appetite. This timing proved to be much more effective than consuming yacon with the main meal.
How much yacon should you consume daily?
Rather, it is worth setting a maximum level where the possible side effects mentioned above may not occur if you do not exceed it.
However, you may want to start with 1 gram of yacon, just to see how your body reacts to it.
If you do not notice any side effects, you can increase the dose. In the experiments mentioned above, the test persons usually consumed 10 to 15 grams of yacon per day. Therefore, we recommend this as an upper limit.
What types of yacon products are there?
Yacon is available for sale in syrup and powder form, but you can also buy the plant and use it yourself. In this section we will show you the advantages and disadvantages of different types of yacon.
Yacon powder is one of the most popular types of yacon. This is because you can easily sweeten almost any food or drink with it due to the consistency of the powder. It is mainly used in cakes and smoothies.
However, it is important to note that the powdered yacon binds more water. We definitely recommend adding more liquids to the prepared food and drink. Another disadvantage of the powder is its price. Powdered products are usually more expensive than syrups.
We recommend yacon powder primarily for those who like to bake sweets or consume smoothies.
The main advantage of yacon syrup is its honey-like texture. Thanks to this, it can dissolve in anything in an instant.
You can use it not only to sweeten food or smoothies, but also your coffee and tea. And because of its better price, it is a more popular choice than powdered yacon for many.
The downside is that you may find the taste of the syrup unusual the first few times. However, the more you use it, the more you will get used to its unique, fruity taste.
However, a study showed that if you heat the yacon syrup above 120 degrees Celsius, the structure of the fructooligosaccharides will break down, so you will lose the beneficial effects of the syrup. (11)
In addition to the processed types, you also have the option of consuming the yacon plant itself. However, this is not easy at all, as it is difficult to transport and therefore very difficult and very expensive to obtain in Europe.
However, if you can get hold of yacon seeds, you can even grow the plant in your own garden. You will read more about this in a later paragraph.
The plant can be used to prepare various dishes and salads. A tip: if you slice the plant thinly and dry it, you will get yacon chips. The resulting yacon chips are an excellent, healthy snack.
What are the alternatives to yacon?
In this section we show you some alternatives that can have a similar effect.
|Maple syrup||Maple syrup is made from the circulating liquid or sap of sugar maple trees.
There are many different varieties of maple syrup, with colour playing a key role. But the classification can vary from country to country.
One tablespoon of maple syrup contains about 50 calories, which is almost the same as yacon syrup. The difference, however, is that maple syrup contains 6 per cent of your daily zinc requirement and 33 per cent of your daily manganese requirement. (10)
But apart from these minerals, it contains a lot of sugar, so please do not consume it in large portions.
|Agave syrup|| Agave syrup comes from the liquid in the blue agave plant. It is used as a sweetener. This is the same plant from which tequila is made. Agave syrup is a high-quality natural product and consists of more than 80 % sugar. It also has a low water content, so it is often liquid at room temperature.
One tablespoon (21 g) of agave syrup contains about 64 calories, while yacon syrup contains about the same amount. (8) , (9)
However, there are no significant health benefits for agave nectar supported by studies.
How can I grow yacon myself?
Young yacon seedlings should only be planted between April and May, as they are very sensitive to cold and frost.
Young yacon roots should be planted quite deep and in loose soil, as their roots become huge. It is a good idea to plant the plants at reasonable distances from each other so that you can dig up the root more easily later.
The yacon can reach a height of one and a half to two metres, so you should think about this when planting. The plant starts to flower in September and October.
At the beginning of autumn, however, the roots need to be dug up because, as already mentioned, they are very sensitive to cold. When digging, please be very careful as the tubers are very vulnerable.
If you want to plant yacon next year, the propagation roots are located above the edible storage tubers.
You should store these in a frost-proof, not too dry place during the winter. Cut the lighter buds into 2 to 3 cm pieces and plant them in small pots in a warm place in March. You can then plant them outdoors later.
Image source: author / 123rf
Cao Y, Ma ZF, Zhang H, Jin Y, Zhang Y, Hayford F. Phytochemical Properties and Nutrigenomic Implications of Yacon as a Potential Source of Prebiotic: Current Evidence and Future Directions. Foods. 2018 Apr 12;7(4):59. doi: 10.3390/foods7040059. PMID: 29649123; PMCID: PMC5920424.
Geyer M, Manrique I, Degen L, Beglinger C. Effect of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) on colonic transit time in healthy volunteers. Digestion. 2008;78(1):30-3. doi: 10.1159/000155214. Epub 2008 Sep 10. PMID: 18781073.
Rodrigues FC, Castro AS, Rodrigues VC, Fernandes SA, Fontes EA, de Oliveira TT, Martino HS, de Luces Fortes Ferreira CL. Yacon flour and Bifidobacterium longum modulate bone health in rats. J Med Food. 2012 Jul;15(7):664-70. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2011.0296. Epub 2012 Apr 17. PMID: 22510044.
Gomes da Silva MF, Dionísio AP, Ferreira Carioca AA, Silveira Adriano L, Pinto CO, Pinto de Abreu FA, Wurlitzer NJ, Araújo IM, Dos Santos Garruti D, Ferreira Pontes D. Yacon syrup: Food applications and impact on satiety in healthy volunteers. Food Res Int. 2017 Oct;100(Pt 1):460-467. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2017.07.035. Epub 2017 Jul 18. PMID: 28873709.
Genta S, Cabrera W, Habib N, Pons J, Carillo IM, Grau A, Sánchez S. Yacon syrup: beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans. Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;28(2):182-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2009.01.013. Epub 2009 Feb 28. PMID: 19254816.
Food and Chemical Toxicology: Subchronic 4-month oral toxicity study of dried Smallanthus sonchifolius (yacon) roots as a diet supplement in rats
Clinical Nutrition: Yacon syrup: Beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans
Food Data Central: Sweetener, syrup, agave
Food Data Central: YACON SYRUP, YACON
NutritionData: Syrups, maple Nutrition Facts & Calories
L'homme C, Arbelot M, Puigserver A, Biagini A. Kinetics of hydrolysis of fructooligosaccharides in mineral-buffered aqueous solutions: influence of pH and temperature. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jan 1;51(1):224-8. doi: 10.1021/jf0204699. PMID: 12502412.
Campos D, Betalleluz-Pallardel I, Chirinos R, Aguilar-Galvez A, Noratto G, Pedreschi R. Prebiotic effects of yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius Poepp. & Endl), a source of fructooligosaccharides and phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity. Food Chem. 2012 Dec 1;135(3):1592-9. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.05.088. Epub 2012 May 30. PMID: 22953898.
Lennerz B, Lennerz JK. Food Addiction, High-Glycemic-Index Carbohydrates, and Obesity. Clin Chem. 2018 Jan;64(1):64-71. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2017.273532. Epub 2017 Nov 20. PMID: 29158252; PMCID: PMC5912158.