The Scoop on Inulin and it’s Health Benefit
With all the hype on high fibre foods and their associated health benefits, it is no wonder that we are seeing more and more products emerge on grocery shelves boasting the extremely sought-after high fibre claim. This blog will explore one of the most common ways that these high fibre claims are achieved, which is often through the use of an ingredient called inulin.
What is Inulin?
Inulin naturally occurs in some plants and is a type of dietary fibre since the human body cannot digest it. More specifically, inulin is a fructan, which is basically a fancy word to imply that there are fructose (sugar) components. Fructans are in foods such as asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions and artichokes and are used for energy storage usually in the plant roots. Another name for inulin is chicory root.
Where is Inulin Used?
Pre-Packaged foods often use inulin as an ingredient since it is very versatile – inulin is tasteless, slightly sweet, mixes well with other ingredients and best of all counts as fibre! Since inulin counts as fibre, this allows manufactures to gain the fibre health claim, which we know equates to $$$ since FIBRE is a consumer buzz word.
You will likely find inulin listed as an ingredient on packaged foods (with high fibre claims) such as cereals, fibre granola bars, certain yogurts and even ice cream and chocolate bars with fibre claims!Since inulin counts as fibre, this allows manufacturers to gain the fibre health claim! Click To Tweet
Is there a health benefit to Inulin?
This topic is a continue debate and on-going research. Currently, the literature does not support claims that inulin fibre decreases cholesterol and promotes satiety or the feeling of fullness.
Consume less processed foods. It is a good idea to be cautious of the health claims on some ‘fibre products’ that contain this ingredient. Therefore, you may begin to question consuming frozen yogurt bars (containing inulin) as a means of improving your cholesterol.
Please do not be mistaken that fibre is an excellent way to promote weight management, heart health and blood sugar control. However, there is such a thing as the ‘right kind of fibre’ with these associated benefits. Look for fibre in whole grains (oatmeal, barley, rye, quinoa), bran, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.There is such a thing as the 'right kind of fibre'! Click To Tweet
Stay tuned to my next blog post where I explore the potential side effects of consuming too much inulin.