What is inulin?
Mar 24, 2021


Beta(2-1)fructans, Chicory Extract, Chicory Inulin, Dahlia Extract, Dahlia Inulin, Extrait de Chicorée, Extrait de Dahlia, Inulina, Inuline, Inuline de Chicorée, Inuline de Dahlia, Long-chain Oligosaccharides, Oligosaccharides, Oligosaccharides à Chaîne Longue, Prebiotic, Prébiotique.

Define Inulin

a white, mildly sweet, indigestible polysaccharide that occurs chiefly in the roots or tubers of various plants (such as chicory or Jerusalem artichoke), that on hydrolysis yields levulose, and that is used as an additive in low-fat and low-sugar foods to improve the flavor and texture, and as a diagnostic agent in a test for kidney function


Inulin is a starchy substance found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including wheat, onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus. The inulin that is used for medicine is most commonly obtained by soaking chicory roots in hot water.

Inulin is used for high blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also used for weight loss, constipation, and as a food additive to improve taste.

What is inulin

what is inulin used for in food?

What makes inulin particularly useful is that it can be used across a full spectrum of food products to replace sugar and fat. Sensus’s range of products are particularly flexible as they are are colorless and neutral. Meaning that the texture, flavour as well as the appearance is not affected but has added health benefits. Enriching food products such as bakery, cereals, dairy, confectionery, beverages and savoury foods. White bread for example could be enriched with extra fibre or yoghurt could be lower in fat.

In plainer terms this means products with less sugar, fewer calories and more fibre while maintaining flavour. Inulin has a prebiotic effect, which means that it stimulates the production of beneficial bacteria in the colon. It also assists in calcium absorption, improving bone health. As a sweeter, inulin is up to 60% as sweet as sugar, but has only half the calories.

How does inulin work?

Inulin isn't processed or ingested in the stomach. It goes to the entrails where microorganisms can utilize it to develop. It upholds the development of a unique sort of microbes that are related with improving gut capacity and general wellbeing.

What foods contain inulin?

A few common sources of inulin include chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, certain whole grains (whole wheat flour, barley, etc.), raw asparagus, leeks, and yams.

"Inulin is also added into some prepackaged foods," registered dietitian Aja Gyimah, MHSc, R.D., tells us, "like bread, snack bars, and cereal, to add more fiber." Along with adding fiber, Devje says it can be used to replace unhealthy fats and sugar in food products and can help enhance the food's texture.

Pro tip: When looking at a product's ingredient list, inulin may be listed as polysaccharides and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which describe its sugar chains.

What is inulin used for?

Industrial use

Nonhydrolyzed inulin can also be directly converted to ethanol in a simultaneous saccharification and fermentation process, which may have potential for converting crops high in inulin into ethanol for fuel.

inulin benefits

Inulin Benefits

1. Reduces Constipation

How does inulin make you poop? Due to its chemical composition, when inulin is mixed with liquid it forms a creamy gel that’s ideal for relieving constipation. When gelled, it has a structure similar to lipids (fats) that also help lubricate the digestive system and lessen risk for things like hemorrhoids.

Not only do fructans work by increasing faecal biomass and water content of poop, but research shows they also improve bowel habits because of how they positively affect gastrointestinal functions and rapidly ferment in the colon to produce healthy bacteria.

2. Improves Gut Health by Acting Like a Prebiotic

As a non-digestible prebiotic, inulin passes through the large intestines unabsorbed. During this process, it naturally ferments and feeds the healthy intestinal microflora (bacterial organisms, including bifidobacterium) that populate the gut.

Research has shown that oligofructose acts like a prebiotic that impacts the lining of the gut and colon, changing the profile of organisms present and modulating the endocrine and immune functions.

3. Helps Curb Appetite

Even though it’s low in absorbable calories (it provides about 1.5 calories per gram), this type of fiber can help to make you feel less hungry.Dietitians recommend that people looking to lose weight work on increasing their fiber intake in order to feel more satisfied and to deal with fewer blood sugar fluctuations.

When combined with water, inulin bulks up and forms a gel-like substance that expands in the digestive tract. This may help decrease appetite and cravings — potentially helping with weight loss. It also slows the process of food emptying from the stomach and takes up more volume, both which contribute to satiety after eating.

4. Boosts Heart Health and Lowers Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors

As it passes through the digestive system unabsorbed by digestive enzymes, inulin takes with it toxins, waste, fat and cholesterol particles. For this reason a high-fiber diet has been tied to heart health.Research shows that increasing your fiber intake (especially the soluble type) helps lower blood cholesterol, reduces your risk for arteriosclerosis and can help you maintain healthy glucose levels.

5. Can Replace Sugar and Flour in Recipes

Oligosaccharides are used in food manufacturing and home cooking to improve food’s taste, texture, moisture level and health benefits. While inulin has a very mild taste that makes it versatile in recipes, some people find that it tastes slightly sweet. Compared to sugar (sucrose) it’s said to be about 10 times less sweet.

The chicory plant, the most common and concentrated source of inulin, has chemical similarities to the sugar beet plant that’s often used to derive sugar.

6. Increases Calcium Absorption

Certain studies have found that increasing your fiber intake may help improve absorption of electrolytes, including calcium and possibly magnesium. How so? It comes down to the beneficial effects of prebiotic inulin within the gut.

A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in high-risk populations for calcium deficiency (especially younger girls and older women), the use of chicory inulin helps increase proper absorption of calcium, which may enhance bone mineralization and protection against disorders like osteoporosis.

Dosage and how to take

No group reported problems related to supplementation until doses of 30 to 40 g per day were consumed.

Should you take inulin

Should you take inulin?

Should you take inulin? — While it is safe for most people, those with a FODMAP intolerance or certain allergies should be cautious. When adding inulin to the diet, people should start with a low dose and gradually increase their intake over a few weeks. Inulin is widely available as a supplement in health food stores and online.

How much inulin to aim for?

Based on research, aim for 5 grams of inulin a day to boost the growth of the probiotic Bifidobacteria in your gut. For better calcium absorption, you want to get 8 grams or more. Getting 12 grams of inulin and FOS a day has been shown to help promote regular bowel movements.

How much has been added?

The amount of inulin that’s tolerated seems to vary from person to person. Research suggests that long-chain inulin is better tolerated than FOS. Most healthy people do well with up to 10 grams of inulin and 5 grams of FOS a day.

Companies aren’t required to specify the amount of inulin in their products on the label; it will be included in the total amount of dietary fiber in the Nutrition Facts table. If a food is made with whole grains or other fiber-rich ingredients, such as a cereal or granola bar, it can be tough to tell how much of the fiber is coming from inulin.

If a food or beverage that doesn’t usually contain fiber, such as yogurt or flavored water, lists inulin as the only fiber ingredient, then the amount of dietary fiber tells you how many grams of inulin have been added.

Inulin side effects

When taken by mouth: Inulin is POSSIBLY SAFE in adults when used appropriately. The most common side effects occur in the stomach. They may include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and cramps. These side effects are more severe at high doses of inulin (more than 30 grams).

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