Inulin is a type of fiber that's found in certain plant foods. Chicory root is the main source of inulin in supplement form.Chicory was originally found in Europe and Asia. Egyptians grew it thousands of years ago as a medicine. It's now grown in the U.S. Your small intestine does not absorb inulin. When it reaches your large intestine (colon), bacteria ferment it.
Can you get inulin naturally from foods?
Many foods -- and plants that are less commonly eaten -- contain inulin. These include:
Chicory, which is used in salads
Inulin is found in some processed foods as a replacement for fat, such as:
When combined with water in a precise way, it can mimic the texture of fat in these foods.
lists food sources of inulin and oligofructose eaten by Americans that served as the basis for the specialized database. A range of upper and lower concentration values of naturally occurring inulin and oligofructose in grams per 100 g of each food are provided, based on values reported by Van Loo et al. (1995). The average of the range was calculated to determine the midpoint values. The food sources include one fruit, eight vegetables and three cereal grains. Bananas contain 0.5 g per 100 g each of inulin and oligofructose. For vegetables, chicory root is the best source of these components, providing 42 g of inulin and 23 g of oligofructose per 100 g. Raw dandelion greens, dried garlic, Jerusalem artichoke and dried onions have the next highest amounts ranging from 13 to 28 g per 100 g of inulin and 11 to 13 g per 100 g of oligofructose. For cereal grains, wheat is the best source, providing ∼2.5 g/100 g of each component in raw bran and baked flour.
Inulin and oligofructose content of foods eaten by Americans
Inulin belongs to a class of carbohydrates called fructans. A fructan acts like a prebiotic. Many have heard of probiotics, which are healthy bacteria related to a healthy gut. Prebiotics, on the other hand, serve as food for probiotics, which in turns promotes a healthy gut flora. In addition to promoting a healthy gastrointestinal tract and reducing constipation, inulin can stimulate your bone health by enhancing calcium absorption, and lower the risk of atherosclerosis by decreasing blood triglyceride levels.
Jerusalem artichoke with a knife and oil on board
pile of Jerusalem artichokes
The Jerusalem artichoke comes from a species of sunflower mainly cultivated for its tuber and used as a root vegetable. The Jerusalem artichoke is also called sun root or topinambur, and 14 to 19 percent of its weight is composed of inulin fiber. Traditional artichokes provide the equivalent of 3 to 10 percent of their weight as inulin.
Chicory root, along with Jerusalem artichoke, is one of the main source of inulin fiber used by the food industry. Fifteen to 20 percent of chicory root's weight corresponds to the fiber inulin. Chicory root may be difficult to use for cooking, but look for foods that contain this root, such as supplement snack bars, as part of their ingredients to get the benefit of inulin.
Leeks, Onions and Garlic
The bulbs of leeks, onions and garlic are good sources of the prebiotic inulin. Three to 10 percent of the weight of leeks, 2 to 6 percent of the weight of onions and 9 to 16 percent of the weight of garlic correspond to inulin. Try to use these flavorful vegetables whenever you cook vegetables, stews, soups or sauces to increase the amount of inulin in your diet.
Bananas provide small quantities of inulin, or about 0.3 to 0.7 percent of a fresh banana's weight. Although the prebiotic content of bananas is relatively small compared to chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke, they can also contribute to increasing your inulin intake if you eat them on a regular basis.
Rye and Barley
Rye and barley are grains that contain small quantities of inulin. For example, about 0.5 to 1 percent of rye is inulin, and there is 0.5 to 1.5 percent in barley. Choose bread made with rye flour, and accompany your meals with barley instead of rice to obtain the benefits inulin has to offer.
Is inulin good or bad for you? As you can probably tell by now, it’s definitely good! Dietary fibers like inulin have been used for hundreds of years to improve bowel functions and gut health, curb appetite, and help maintain heart health, all completely naturally.
Technically inulin is a type of fructan, oligofructose carbohydrate. It’s present inside the roots and stems of plants as a means of storing energy and regulating the plant’s internal temperature. It contains about ¼ of the calories of white sugar per gram and has minimal effects on blood glucose levels, making it helpful for diabetics.
It also has osmotically active properties (a benefit to plants because this helps them resist cold temperatures and survive) and a high molecular weight. This gives it the ability to absorb liquid and to have a natural resistance to digestive enzymes produced by humans.
Inulin is a type of fiber that has many beneficial properties. Eating a diet rich in inulin through food and supplementation may help to improve weight, cholesterol, and gut health.
To start, begin by adding more fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes, to your diet. Doing so can increase your nutrition profile and reduce the risk of adding extra sugar and sodium that foods enhanced with inulin may have.
If you are looking to add inulin in capsule, gummy, or powder form consult with your physician before doing so. Think about your overall fiber intake and how much inulin you need to meet your recommended fiber needs.
Bananas are more than a delicious fruit: They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they contain small amounts of inulin.Unripe (green) bananas are high in resistant starch, which has prebiotic effects.
Plus, one medium-sized banana (about 7 to 8 inches long) is only 105 calories and contains approximately 3 grams of fiber and 422 mg of potassium
Bananas contain 0.5 g per 100 g each of inulin and oligofructose.
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