A November episode of The Dr. Oz Show featuring the potential weight-loss benefits of yacon syrup re-aired this week; since then, searches for the stuff on Yahoo! have spiked. Users’ searches about general things including “where to buy yacon syrup” and “what is yacon syrup” have jumped 5,316 percent, with 72 percent of them coming from women.
So, here’s the 4-1-1 on yacon: It’s a tubular plant found in South America, and the slightly-sweet syrup that was featured on Dr. Oz is extracted from the plant. After the show’s producers discovered promising past research on the stuff, they decided to conduct their own experiment. The team had 40 women down a teaspoon of syrup before every meal for four weeks, but they were not asked to change their diet or fitness levels in any way. Drum roll, please: Twenty-nine of them lost weight. The average drop? 2.9 pounds in one month.
But take a breath before you start stockpiling the yacon syrup—because while this might seem like a fabulous new weight-loss tool, it’s not exactly magical. In fact, an uptick in fiber from the yacon syrup is likely the main reason behind the benefits, according to Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D., a senior dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital, who took a look at past research on yacon syrup and Dr. Oz’s small test. “What’s interesting is people did feel fuller and more satisfied after consuming the yacon, and constipation was relieved,” she says. “All the things that we see with an increase in fiber, we are seeing here with this syrup.”
The yacon syrup is high in prebiotics, particularly fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which act as soluble fiber that keeps you fuller longer and may help aid in weight loss, better digestion, and more regular bowel movements. Fun fact: You can also get more of this fiber from healthy staples such as oatmeal, and particularly fruits and veggies like strawberries, apples, carrots, and celery. London says overweight people in particular tend to have diets that are lower in fiber, so fiber through the yacon syrup could very well have given study participants looking to lose weight those added benefits.
The takeaway here? There is still no miracle natural weight-loss solution (unfortunately)—just tried-and-true nutritional habits, such as focusing on fiber for weight loss and better digestion. So while you can totally test out yacon syrup if you’d like, you can also munch on these 15 healthy high-fiber foods that make you feel full and satisfied.