Almost everyone loves sweets, but suffering from diabetes makes certain choices more difficult. Nowadays, sugar is added to products that aren't normally known to contain it, so diabetics frequently find themselves faced with limited options, especially when it comes to desserts.
However, the best fixes are the usually simplest, and the use of yacon for diabetes has proven quite effective. The tuber of the yacon plant, also known as "Peruvian ground apple," resembles a potato and has a pear-like taste. It has been gaining attention in the world of diabetes and obesity due to its unique medicinal benefits.
Regulates Blood Sugar
Yacon's carbohydrate content consists of inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are not absorbed by the digestive tract. It means that they don't raise blood sugar levels. In fact, studies have found that there is a correlation between daily consumption of yacon as a sweetener and a reduced glycemic index, which is particularly beneficial for pre-diabetics and diabetics with insulin resistance.1,2
Improves Gut Health
The complex sugars (mainly fiber) contained in yacon work as natural prebiotics, which are carbohydrates that good gut bacteria in the gut feed on. It has been suggested that dried yacon might also serve as a carrier of probiotic bacteria, enabling them to reach the colon, multiply, and improve the digestive health. This may be highly beneficial for diabetics since bacterial imbalances in the gut have been linked to higher blood sugar levels.3,4
Promotes Weight Loss
Obesity and sedentary life have been associated with increased risk of developing diabetes. Since it has a significantly lower caloric content than other natural sweeteners, such as agave, maple syrup, or honey, using yacon for weight loss might be beneficial. Moreover, the consumption of yacon syrup has been found to suppress cravings and increase satiety, which is good news for any determined dieter.5
Lowers Bad Cholesterol
People with diabetes are more likely to have a decreased "good" cholesterol and high levels of "bad" cholesterol, which puts their cardiovascular health at risk. However, yacon has been shown to lower fasting triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) and prevent their accumulation.6 Additionally, yacon is rich in potassium, a mineral that is essential for the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular disease prevention.
For understandable reasons, herbs that can help manage diabetes have been in high demand in the recent years. For many diabetics, natural low-calorie sweeteners, like yacon or stevia, have become significant life changers, allowing them to keep their disease at bay and enabling them to enjoy life as everyone else.
- Chemico-Biological Interventions, Hypolipidemic effect of Smallanthus sonchifolius (yacon) roots on diabetic rats: Biochemical approach, 2011
- Ciencia Rural, Yacon: health benefits and technological applications, 2015
- Clinical Nutrition Journal, Yacon syrup: Beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans, 2009
- Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, Probiotics for the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis, 2016
- Nutrients, Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) as a Food Supplement: Health-Promoting Benefits of Fructooligosaccharides, 2016
- Nutrition & Diabetes, Yacon diet (Smallanthus sonchifolius, Asteraceae) improves hepatic insulin resistance via reducing Trb3 expression in Zucker fa/fa rats, 2013
- Clinical Nutrition. (2009). Yacon syrup: beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19254816/
- Food Research International. (2019). Yacon syrup reduces postprandial glycemic response to breakfast: A randomized, crossover, double-blind clinical trial. Retrieved August 26, 2022 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31732062/
- Journal of Medicinal Food. (2015). Yacon-Based Product in the Modulation of Intestinal Constipation. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25692980/
- Nutrition Hospitalaria. (2012). Microbiota benefits after inulin and partially hydrolized guar gum supplementation: a randomized clinical trial in constipated women. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22566311/
- CLinical Nutrition ESPEN. (2019). Consumption of yacon flour improves body composition and intestinal function in overweight adults: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Retrieved August 26, 2020 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30661690/
- Journal of Obesity. (2018). Smallanthus sonchifolius (Yacon) Flour Improves Visceral Adiposity and Metabolic Parameters in High-Fat-Diet-Fed Rats. Retrieved August 26, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6230400/