Inulin is a multi-brewer with numerous pro-health activities, which naturally occurs, for example, in the roots of chicory, dandelion and Jerusalem artichoke.We find it in ready-to-eat food as a substitute for fat and sugar.Inulin can also be bought in the form of powder and pastilles.Nutritionists place great hopes in it, because it can be a tool in the fight against diet-related diseases and obesity.
Inulin is a natural multi-sugar belonging to the group of fructans, composed of glucose and fructose molecules.Due to its structure and connections between molecules, it is not digested in the human digestive tract, thanks to which it functions as a dietary fiber.
Inulin is a white powder that resembles starch, but dissolves well in water.It is mainly collected in the roots, rhizomes and lower parts of plant stems, where it is a reserve material.
Inulin is mainly produced by plants from the Asteraceae family.In large quantities (about 40%) we find it in chicory tubers, Jerusalem artichokes (bulbous sunflower), dandelion, artichoke or burdock, but also in onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and bananas.
Inulin for use in the food industry and as a dietary remedy is obtained by extraction mainly from chicory and Jerusalem artichoke.
Inulin is characterized by low caloricity (150 kcal / 100 g) and a delicate sweetness.It is about 10 times less sweet than sugar, therefore it is not used as a self-contained replacement for sucrose in food and in the kitchen.
Inulin has structure-forming and gelling properties as well as thickening and stabilizing properties.It often substitutes fat in foods to lower the calorific value.1 g of inulin is used as a substitute for 4 g of fat.This gives a big reduction in calories, because in 1 g of inulin we have 1.5 kcal, and in 4 g of fat – up to 36 kcal!
At the same time, the replacement of fat does not cause deterioration of the product’s properties.On the contrary – it improves their consistency and gives a feeling of creaminess and fatness while eating.
Inulin is an ally of weight loss
The possibility of using inulin as a fat substitute makes it used in the production of low-calorie food intended for slimming.Many people on the diet finally give up because they can not imagine the next day without their favorite delicacies.
The use of, for example, desserts with inulin in a low-calorie diet is a great facilitation in slimming, mainly for people who have problems with strong will.
Lowering calories is not the only advantage of inulin.Inulin can suppress appetite and increase the feeling of fullness, and thus improve control over the amount of food consumed.Its use carries a lot of health benefits, which may also be helpful in the era of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Not only people who have weight problems can use inulin, but everyone who cares about health and wants to eat well.
Inulin as a prebiotic
Inulin is included in the components of dietary fiber.It is not digested in the human digestive tract and almost completely passes into the large intestine unchanged, where it is fermented by the intestinal microflora.Inulin is a prebiotic, ie a food ingredient that stimulates the development of normal intestinal bacterial flora and thus has a positive effect on health.
After inulin supplementation, a decrease in stool pH and a significant increase in the number of beneficial Bifidobacterium bacteria that are involved in food digestion, synthesis of certain vitamins, breakdown of toxic substances and increase the body’s immunity have been observed.Both of these factors inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in the gut.Inulin regulates bowel movements as a result of stimulation of the contractility of the intestinal walls and reduces the tendency to constipation, without lazing the intestines.
Due to the low pH of the large intestine and regular defecations, the risk of inflammation of the large intestine and the formation of polyps and ulcers, which may result in cancer, decreases.Inulin can also reduce the risk of hormone-dependent cancers, mainly prostate and breast cancer – it inhibits the production of intestinal microflora, one of the causes of cancer.
Inulin and cholesterol
Pure inulin, as well as plants that contain it in large quantities, have a positive effect on the lipid profile of blood plasma.Taking 20-40 g of inulin per day results in lowering of total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
This effect results from the inulin’s ability to bind fatty acids in the intestine.It is possible to raise the level of HDL cholesterol at the same time, however, the results of this study are contradictory.When consuming inulin, the amount of cholesterol absorbed in the intestines drops by up to 50%.
This is probably due to increasing the viscosity of the food content.Inulin consumption helps maintain a healthy lipid profile for both healthy people and those with cardiovascular problems and may be an important factor in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
Check also: Inulin – how does it work?
Inulin and diabetes
Inulin has a positive effect on the regulation of the body’s carbohydrate metabolism.Thanks to the properties of soluble fiber, it slows the absorption of sugar from food into the blood and reduces the glycemic index of food consumed.Its use in food is beneficial for diabetics, because it can further reduce the level of glucose in the blood.
In studies in rats, it was noted that inulin exhibits such an effect.Diabetic animals were divided into four groups, one of which was fed for 5 weeks with a conventional diet, and the remaining 5, 10 or 15% dry topinambour extract was added to the feed.In all food-fed rats supplemented with Jerusalem artichoke, blood glucose levels were reduced by 24, 31 and 27%, respectively, compared to the control group.
Inulin and bone mineralization
Consumption of inulin improves the bioavailability of some minerals, that is, it increases their absorption into the bloodstream from medicines, supplements and food.Particular attention was paid to the increased bioavailability of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
Increased use of these ingredients is possible by increasing the amount of bifidobacteria, greater production of short-chain fatty acids in the large intestine, and consequently lowering the pH in the intestine.This facilitates the solubility and absorption of mineral salts.Better bioavailability of elements improves bone mineralization, which is especially important during puberty and menopause, when the risk of osteoporosis increases.
The use of inulin
Inulin is commonly used in confectionery and baking, also for making icing and cake decorations.It is also used in the production of milk desserts, yoghurts, cheese, ice cream, margarines and chocolates.
In the kitchen you can use inulin as a thickener, for example for soups and sauces, jelly and pudding or after dissolving in water, as a gelling agent for the preparation of jelly and dairy desserts.In homemade baked goods, such as cakes and bread, you can mix it with flour – then they will be less caloric and longer fresh, and crisp cookies – more crispy.Inulin will also work as a stabilizer in homemade mayonnaise.