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Inulin

Posted on Mon Aug 2009 by Miranda

I was doing some research into the different types of soya milks when I came across “inulin” as an ingredient in some soya milks and had no idea what it was and why it was there. I really don’t like not knowing what an ingredient is, so for anyone wondering what inulin is and if you should worry about it here is the low down.

We all know about fibre and its importance for digestive health, well inulin is a dietary fibre increasingly being used by food manufacturers in processed foods, so we are probably eating more inulin than we think.

So what is inulin?

Inulin is a specific type of dietary fibre that is naturally found in hundreds of common foods such as leeks, artichokes, asparagus, onions, garlic, bananas, wheat, rye, and…chicory root.

Inulin has excellent nutritional and functional characteristics and can be used to replace fat, flour, and sugar. To find out if foods contain inulin, look for ‘chicory root’ or ‘inulin’. As an added fibre inulin may offer more health benefits than other fibres:

  1. Inulin promotes healthy gut bacteria
    Pre- and pro-biotics are ‘good’ bacteria that help maintain gut health. Inulin is a probiotic.
  2. Improve your digestive functions with inulin
    Like other fibres, inulin helps digestion, prevents constipation, and keeps you regular. A large reason for this is because of its probiotic properties.
  3. Inulin can help manage diabetes
    Because inulin is not digested, it does not affect glucose levels. This makes it an appropriate food for diabetics. It is not counted as carbohydrate intake.
  4. Improved bone health with inulin
    Preliminary studies suggest that adding inulin to calcium-rich foods may boost calcium absorption. This is good news for your bones and those of us non dairy eaters especially when some soya milk contains inulin.

So essentially from my findings inulin is a dietry fibre and I can see why it’s been added to the enriched soya milks to boost its fibre content and help calcium absorbtion. As with all these added ingredients the thing to remember is the best kind of fibre is from foods naturally rich in fibre, such as inulin rich onions, artichokes, bananas, asparagus, and garlic.

2 responses to “Inulin”

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks Miranda, you explain this little known ingredient really clearly. It’s good to know a bit what goes in to the various food products that we eat – even better when it turns out to be good for us!

  2. J. Burchill says:

    I have had issues with inulin as a food additive. It actually was giving me digestive upsets which ceased only when I stopped eating foods laced with this stuff. Even when I tried to do things gradually, the inulin still made me sick with intestinal distress.

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