Yacón Syrup: What it is & Why You Need it

(Probably) like the rest of ya’ll – I binged the absolute shit out of Netflix’s new original series, Down to Earth. Starring none other than everyone’s favorite teenage heart throb, Zac Efron. And it’s also thanks to this lovely little show that I found yacon root syrup.

The meme’s are real ya’ll. Zac Efron does get better with age.

But besides my obvious crush on shall we call him, Daddy Zac, I found Down to Earth wildly entertaining and informative. Sure there are bits and pieces of the science involved that seem a little loosey goosey – but the overall intent and message of the show is a great one.

Give a shit about your food. Give a shit about your health. Give two shits about the planet.

I think we can all admit Down to Earth – whether it was as “hard hitting” as you wanted it to be or not – was damn entertaining. It just was. I’d absolutely sit down again to watch Daddy Zac eat bugs and have a panic attack while traveling in a train underground underwater.

Relatable.

I also appreciated the show’s emphasis on sustainability and paying attention to how our actions do impact the planet. Not all the science discussed in Down to Earth fully checks out, but I think we can all look around at the increasing natural disasters we’re experiencing and finally acknowledge that climate change is real.

Anywhoo – let’s talk about yacon. Because it was one of the coolest discoveries I made while watching the show.

While there were plenty of things I took away from the show, the item I rush ordered to try was yacon root syrup. In this blog post I’ll break down all the deets of this tasty superfood syrup – and why you may (or may not!) want to add it to your pantry rotation.

Learn all about yacon root syrup and why you need to give it a try in this blog post from Kelsey of Blondes & Bagels.
Learn all about yacon root syrup and why you need to give it a try in this blog post from Kelsey of Blondes & Bagels.

What exactly is yacón syrup?

Yacon root syrup is a natural sweetener that originates in the Andes from the yacon plant. Yacon was​​​​​​​ a staple of the Incas primarily because of its nutritional values – a sweet taste, but with low calories and sugar (do ya’ll remember my calorie density blog post?). In 2019, Sydney University conducted a study and categorized Yacon syrup as a low glycemic index food.

Health benefits of yacon – are they true?​​​​​​​

All the major yacon syrup benefits to know about.

While I have found a study or two that shows results when it comes to the health benefits of yacón syrup to share with ya’ll, I personally think the biggest health benefit to adding this syrup into your diet is really when it’s utilized as a sweetener replacement. Yacon is widely known to help promote healthy blood sugar levels, when compared to the use of more traditional sweeteners.

UCSF reports Americans on average consume about 57 pounds of added sugar per person per year. That’s not great, you guys. And not even from the vanity and weight perspective – really from the wellness, chronic metabolic disease, and longevity perspective. Insulin resistance, from all my reading, is a key piece of the puzzle that is America’s obesity problem. That’s exactly why folks are scrambling to include this superfood into their diets – because it can promote healthy weight loss and potentially help you lose weight by replacing other empty calories (sugars) with Yacon.

Because yacon syrup is a low-GI food, it won’t cause the same spike in blood glucose levels as your basic added sugar. So if you’re into sweeteners – yacon syrup could have major health benefits for you.

As always when it comes to any major health topics (like body mass index, topics regarding the immune system, etc) I strongly urge you to seek medical advice from your primary care physician. I can share my research with you – but you’ll always want to chit chat with your doctor!

What does yacón syrup taste like & how can I use it?

Do you like the taste of brown sugar, caramel, or maple syrup? You’ll enjoy the flavor of yacon root syrup as it’s a stones throw away from these goodies when it comes to flavor profile.

I will say – I don’t exactly love eating yacon root syrup by the spoonful (which I’ll absolutely admit I DO love to do with honey, particularly if my throat is sore). Yacon has a pretty strong flavor. It tastes best when it is mixed into something rather than alone.

While I am not a big maple syrup user – I do at times add sweetener to my morning coffee or baked goods. Yacon syrup makes an awesome replacement for sugar in your coffee, honey in your tea, or even sugar in some of your baked goods where you’d typically swap in honey!

A note for all the bakers in the room.

Shout out to all my fellow bakers out there! My only little asterisk of utilizing yacon syrup for baking is that it does have a big impact on the texture of your baked goods – meaning they will become dense and moist. Dry sugars add a much lighter, fluffier, and drier texture when baking. Yacon syrup really can change the entire result of a recipe when swapping for traditional table sugar. I tried to bake banana bread with it and basically ended up with a bread pudding.

It was still delicious, by the way.

I’m going to continue to play with swapping yacon into my baking adventures, but just wanted to make ya’ll aware that it isn’t exactly a simple 1:1 swap with standard sugar.

Where can I buy yacón syrup?​​​​​​​

The best yacon syrup on the market.

Good news for ya – yacon syrup (even organic yacon syrup!) is easily available for purchase on Amazon. I did the work to scout out the most legit syrup out there. Yacon syrup from Peru is your best bet, so be aware plenty of other people online sell lesser quality versions that lack the same health benefits.

I do want to acknowledge ringing in at around $16 per jar at the time of this post – yacón isn’t cheap. It always pains me to find low-GI options (or just more healthful options in general) that cost more than their unhealthier counterparts. Much more.

We have a huge problem in this country where access to healthier foods isn’t easily available to all and comes with geographic and socio-economic barriers. Eating unhealthily isn’t the “choice” we’re all led to believe it is.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ I feel insanely passionate about this topic and have been trying to slowly address it where I can (make sure to check out my recent podcast episodes!). But in the meantime, please know I’m insanely aware of how expensive yacon is. If you’re looking for healthier sugar alternatives, I’d honestly recommend just trying to slowly decrease your added sugar consumption overall. I like to start small! Like utilizing one less drop coffee creamer in my daily coffee.

Let’s keep fighting the good fight, ya’ll. And share your syrup with a friend over a loving cup of morning coffee.

So – what’s the truth? Is Yacón syrup the body weight miracle you’ve been waiting for?

In reality? No. Yacon syrup isn’t a magic waist circumference shrinking miracle food. In all its glory, yacon syrup is still a sweetener with more nutritional value than your average sweetener – but it’s still a sweetener. I absolutely believe just about any food can be part of a healthy diet, but that diet has to have a variety and a balance of whole foods.

In truth, no one food or supplement will ever be the key to unlocking all your health goals. It’s about the entire mix of your diet, lifestyle, and way of living.

Yacon is awesome! And I love adding it to my coffee, tea, and smoothies. And even my baked goods! But I know it for what it is – an added sweetener that for me personally is just a “better” swap for my usual sugars. Not a miracle food. Because, spoiler alert, there really are no miracle foods.

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Learn all about yacon root syrup and why you need to give it a try in this blog post from Kelsey of Blondes & Bagels.
Learn all about yacon root syrup and why you need to give it a try in this blog post from Kelsey of Blondes & Bagels.

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