June 4, 2013

Yacon Diet to Improve Insulin Resistance

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yaconIn the current issue of Nutrition  & Diabetes, researchers investigated the impact a yacon diet would have on insulin resistance. This South American potato-looking vegetable may be a starch of a different persuasion.

Yacon is a plant made of edible underground tubers. Yacon has become increasingly popular in the Japanese diet  because of the lower caloric value and a high fiber count. Studies have suggested that yacon consumption aids diabetes by reducing blood glucose.

In this study, two groups of rats were evaluated. One group was the control, fed a normal diet. The other group was fed a normal diet, in addition to yacon. The study lasted for 5 weeks. Insulin sensitivity was evaluated at the start of the study. Body weight was comparable between yacon- and normally fed rats.

For the rats who were fed yacon, it had an effect to lower fasting glucose. In order to keep the glucose lebvels comparable between the yacon-fed rats and the control group, the yacon-rats needed to have glucose infused by  12.3% to remain constant with the control group.

These results indicate that the effect of yacon feeding to reduce blood glucose is likely due to its beneficial effects on hepatic insulin sensitivity in the insulin resistant state.

The yacon leaf is an herb that has become popular in recent years due to a few controlled medical studies showing the positive effects of yacon leaf on diabetic rats.  Maybe now it’s time to indulge in more yacon sweetened treats with yacon-based sweeteners?

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