I have high blood sugar level and bad cholesterol, which is why I am looking forward to reducing some weight. While searching for food items that will facilitate weight reduction, I came across a supplement called yacon. What are yacon capsules? How can they help me reduce weight and regulate blood sugar and cholesterol? These are some of the questions I set out to research before I decided to opt for yacon capsules as a weight reduction strategy.
Yacon, scientifically known as Smallanthus sonchifolius, is a perennial plant that resembles daisies and belongs to the same family. The branching system of this plant yields 2-2.5m high aerial stems. The plant produces 10 kilograms of roots, which are fruit-like and starchy and can be consumed raw. Yacon can adapt to varying climates, soil conditions, and altitudes, which explains the expansion of the plant to multiple regions. Originally, yacon is native to South America. Its adaptability to different conditions has expanded its cultivation and made it popular in many countries including Ecuador, Italy, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, etc.
The appearance of the plant is nearly similar to that of the sweet-potato plant, but yacon is sweeter, and comes with enhanced health benefits. Many people use it regularly for managing diabetes symptoms, digestive disorders, kidney diseases, weight, and also as a natural sweetener.
Yacon: A Natural Sweetener
Most of the weight of yacon is due to its 70% water content and the rest is fructooligosacharides (FOS). This FOS can be 6.4%-70% depending upon the conditions under which the plant was cultivated. The fructooligosacharides are sugar molecules, which are not recognized by the human body. Hence, they cannot be digested. This leads to low consumption of sugar and low sugar content in our bloodstream.
The supplement stimulates our taste buds and adds a sweet taste to the food. Since our body does not digest FOS, it only has one-third of the calories present in sugar.
How Yacon Capsules Help?
The FOS content of yacon capsules facilitates the growth of good bacteria in the digestive system. This prevents stomach ailments and leads to higher absorption of nutrients in the body. The overall functioning of FOS stimulates weight loss, reduces the risk of diabetes with a balanced gut, enhances brain function, and improves the immune system.
Although yacon capsules themselves do not have much mineral and vitamin content, they increase the vitamin and mineral intake from other foods. Yacon is also a rich source of calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.
Benefits of Yacon Capsules
Controls Blood Sugar
Since yacon capsules regulate glucose levels and reduce sugar absorption in our body, they are beneficial for people with Type II diabetes. The supplement also helps in reducing fasting glucose rates.
An experiment observed the effects of yacon on diabetic rats. For the study, yacon flour was prepared by dehydrating yacon roots. No chemical or preservatives were added to this flour. The diabetic rats included in the experiment consumed this FOS-rich flour for 90 days. Although there was no significant change in the body weight, fasting plasma triacylglycerol and low-density lipoprotein levels decreased. The intake additionally protected rats from plasma triacylglycerol postprandial peak.
Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Yacon roots help in the prevention of bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol accumulation in our body. With reduction in cholesterol build-up in our arteries, many ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes can be decreased to a significant extent.
In a study, rats inflicted with diabetes mellitus were divided into four groups. The 1st group, which was non-diabetic, received standard chow diet. The 2nd group, which was diabetic, received standard chow diet. The 3rd group, which was diabetic, received chow diet plus 1 mL/kg of unfermented yacon and soybean. The 4th non-diabetic group received chow diet plus 1 mL/kg of fermented yacon and soybean.
When these rats were evaluated on the basis of animal body weight, blood glucose, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), food and water intake, enzyme activities of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), triglycerides levels, HDL-C, total cholesterol, and non-HDL-C, the 3rd and 4th group experienced significant positive effects regarding HDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
Enhances Digestive Activities
Although our body can’t absorb FOS, yacon still stimulates growth of microflora in our body, which enables high absorption of minerals and vitamins present in the food. Its laxative property helps in decreasing bloating, constipation, gastric ulcers, and gastrointestinal issues.
In a placebo-controlled study, 16 healthy individuals, eight females and eight males, received 20g of yacon daily. The stool frequency increased and consistency enhanced, which suggested that yacon supplements could help constipated diabetics and obese patients.
Promotes Liver Health
As we already know yacon can regulate blood glucose levels, which automatically decreases the burden on the liver. The supplement can also reduce accumulation of fat in liver, hence promoting the overall health of the liver.
In a trial, male rats were fed yacon supplements for five weeks and their insulin sensitivity was tested based on a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp study. The results revealed that the yacon-fed rats had reduced blood glucose levels, increased HGO (hepatic glucose output) insulin suppression, and decreased tribbles 3 expression in their liver.
Reduces the Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Many studies reveal that yacon roots can initiate apoptosis, which means programmed cell death. The process assists in preventing the cancer cells from spreading in the body. The plant’s root is specifically known to help in reducing the symptoms of colon, blood, and skin cancer.
A study observed the effect of yacon supplements on Wistar rats induced with colon carcinogenesis. After four weeks of induced colon carcinogenesis initiation, the 1st and 6th groups were fed a basal diet, the 4th group was given a synbiotic formulation (1.0% yacon), the 2nd group received yacon (0.5%) and a basal diet, and the 3rd and 5th groups were fed yacon (1.0%) and basal diet for 13 weeks. The aberrant crypt foci significantly reduced in multiplicity and number, tumor multiplicity and colonic crypts cell proliferation also decreased.
Yacon Capsule Intake
Yacon root and its beneficial plant parts can be consumed in the form of capsules directly. This is favored in particular by working individuals who may not have the time to acquire, prepare, and consume the supplement organically. Since yacon has a sweet, crunchy taste, many people also like consuming it raw. Yacon roots can also be added to food preparation, fruit salads, and can even be consumed in the form of jam.
Yacon roots have many beneficial properties, which help in reducing the symptoms of diabetes, cholesterol, colon cancer, constipation, and maintain liver and digestive system health. However, it is still suggested to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis if you are experiencing the symptoms of any underlying health conditions.