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Is Yacon Syrup A Healthy Sweetener?
Yacon syrup is a natural vegan sweetener derived from a root that is grown in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Yacon is a food that has long been eaten by the indigenous Andeans in the same way that potatoes are eaten; it even looks much like a sweet potato, but is more closely related to chicory and Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke) than potatoes or sweet potatoes(1).
It truly is a natural sweetener that is processed in much the same way maple syrup is, so you can rest assured that it’s not a highly-processed chemical-laden artificial food. In fact, yacon syrup requires such a small amount of processing that some companies have the processing plant right in the indigenous communities where the harvesting occurs(1). With yacon syrup, not only are you getting a natural sweetener with significant health benefits, that I delve into more on the Benefits of Yacon page, but it can also help those living in the developing nations that grow and process this product, as well.
Yacon Syrup’s Unique Health Qualities
What makes yacon syrup so special is that it contains a high amount, up to 50% of total sugar content, that is instead of being a typical sugar, is an insoluble carbohydrate fiber called Fructooligosaccharides, or FOS. This FOS is what confers many of the Benefits of Yacon, some of which are:
- Improved blood sugar regulation
- Better digestive health
- Improved immune system
- Even improved energy and weight loss in some studies
All of which lead us to the real question of how yacon syrup tastes. Who cares how great the health benefits of an alternative sweetener are if it doesn’t taste very good?
Yacon Syrup Review
In order to do a Yacon Syrup taste test, I tried out two different syrups, both of which were generously supplied to me by the manufacturers:
- PureSimple Yacon Syrup and
- Living Natural Yacon Syrup
The two brands were indistinguishable from one another in taste and in the use of the same 8 fluid ounce bottle, and both contained 100% yacon syrup as the only ingredient. I suspect they are produced by the same manufacturer who simply labels them differently for the different distributors, so I’ll just discuss them generally and not specifically.
Yacon syrup looks a lot like molasses, but has a lighter flavor without the distinctive notes of molasses, more akin to a light caramel sauce. It has no artificial or ‘funky’ tastes other than its own unique flavor that is nothing remarkable or overpowering. I found that it complemented most everything that one would sweeten, such as coffee, tea, and even matcha green tea. I even put it on pancakes, and while I liked it, the flavor is a bit plain by itself, and maple syrups are probably a better choice. I thought that the molasses-loving Joshua Tucker from the TendontitisExpert would like it on pancakes. I was surprised to find that he didn’t like it on the pancakes, but we both liked it as a substitute for the maple syrup in this Paula Deen’s Baked Acorn Squash Recipe.
I used the yacon syrup for about a month, having at least a teaspoon and up to a Tablespoon per day, usually in coffee, tea, or other hot drinks. I found it entirely pleasant without having any problems at all. Because the FOS can feed good bacteria in the gut, some people might get gassy or bloated when they first start using yacon syrup, Its even possible that someone with severe Intestinal Candida could experience symptoms of Candida die-off (which, while being unpleasant, is actually a sign of an improving condition), however, I had no such ill effects. I also cannot claim to have experienced any of the Benefits of Yacon either, other than taste. However, I did begin a low carb diet while on yacon syrup, and I was easily in moderate ketosis within 3 days while having used one to two teaspoons of it each day. So, even those who might need or want to be on a low-carb diet might be able to incorporate small amounts of yacon syrup into their diet safely. While the research showed that this might be the case, I was happy to be able to show that I could get into ketosis while taking yacon.
Probably the only downside to the syrups that I tried was that the product seemed to settle down to a thick mass at the bottom, making it difficult or even impossible to get a significant amount of the product out. Several times, I poured warm water into the bottle and shake vigorously for a few minutes to get a syrup that was usable. I had to repeat this every few times I used it in order to be able to use the last several ounces of the product. I would recommend to the manufacturers that using a pot or wide mouthed jar, like the kind used for honey, would be a better choice for yacon, so the thick mass could be spooned out of the bottom more easily.
Other than that small complaint, I really enjoy yacon syrup, and from the research on this alternative sweetener as well as the taste, I would definitely recommend this syrup to anyone who still wants to have something sweet while avoiding sugar and the Side Effects of Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. I was especially impressed that I could so easily get into ketosis in just three days while taking yacon. I will almost certainly continue daily usage of this superfood sweetener that has had a thousand years of being safely used as a food source(2).
At the time of this writing, the prices for the products I reviewed are as follows.
Living Natural 100% Pure Yacon Syrup is $17.95 for an 8 ounce bottle and has a money back guarantee.
Pure Simple Yacon Syrup 100 Percent Pure Root Extract is $25.47 for the same 8 ounce bottle and also has a 30 day money back guarantee.