By peoplestaff225
Updated May 28, 2014 04:39 PM
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The mere mention of a potential weight-loss wonder can send the internet into a tizzy. After a recent re-run of the The Dr. Oz Show from November 2013 on yacon syrup, the search term spiked a whopping 5,316 percent on Yahoo.

If you’ve never heard of it before, join the club.

Yacon is a South American root which has been part of the Peruvian diet for hundreds of years — it looks a bit like a sweet potato (its extract has a texture like molasses), and is said to taste similar to raisins.

Intriguing. But why was everyone running to their laptops? Dr. Oz called yacon a “metabolism game changer” that supports good digestion and regulates blood sugar, all of which contribute to — you guessed it — weight loss. Ah, the magic words! Naturally, the world wants in on this seemingly easy-peasy way to drop pounds. But does it actually work?

In his quick weight-loss study, Dr. Oz asked 60 women to each consume one teaspoon of yacon syrup with or before each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for four weeks, without changing anything else about their diet or exercise habits. Call it a success: Nearly 75 percent of the women slimmed down, with an average weight loss of almost 3 pounds!

Yacon, both a prebiotic and probiotic, also works as a tea, or as a sugar substitute — although the jury’s out on whether the heat required for baking may mitigate some of yacon’s positive effects.

What’s the catch? Make sure you’re buying 100 percent yacon syrup with no additives or other substances, and beware that going overboard can cause diarrhea and cramping. As for any major side effects, yet another quick internet search doesn’t turn up much, so we’ll have to defer to our ancient Andean friends to clue us in.

—Brooke Showell