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Inulin is a polysaccharide with numerous he alth-promoting effects, which occurs naturally, for example, in the roots of chicory, dandelion and Jerusalem artichoke. We find it in ready-made foods as a substitute for fat and sugar. You can also buy inulin in the form of powders and lozenges. Nutritionists place high hopes in it, because it can be a tool in the fight against diet-related diseases and obesity.

Inulinis a natural polysaccharide belonging to the fructan group, composed of glucose and fructose molecules. Due to its structure and connections between molecules, it is not digested in the human digestive tract, therefore it functions as 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.

Sources of inulin

Inulin is produced primarily by plants from the Asteraceae family ( Asteraceae ). In large amounts (about 40%) we can find it in the tubers of chicory, Jerusalem artichoke (Jerusalem artichoke), dandelion, artichoke or burdock, but also in onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and bananas.

Inulin for use in the food industry and as a dietary supplement is obtained mainly from chicory and Jerusalem artichoke.

Properties of inulin

Inulin is characterized by low calorific value (150 kcal / 100 g) and a delicate sweetness. It is about 10 times less sweet than sugar, so it cannot be used as an independent replacement for sucrose in food products and in the kitchen.

Inulin has structure-forming and gelling properties, as well as thickening and stabilizing properties. It often replaces fat in food products to reduce the caloric value. 1 g of inulin is used as a replacement for 4 g of fat. This gives a great reduction in calories, because 1 g of inulin contains 1.5 kcal, and 4 g of fat - as much as 36 kcal!

At the same time, replacing fat with it does not deteriorate the properties of the product. On the contrary - it improves their consistency and gives a feeling of creaminess and greasiness when eating.

Inulin is an ally of weight loss

The possibility of using inulin as a fat substitutemakes it used in the production of low-calorie food intended for slimming people. Many people on diets eventually give up on it because they cannot imagine the next day without their favorite treats.

The use of e.g. inulin desserts in a low-calorie diet is a great help in losing weight, mainly for people who have problems with willpower.

Lowering calories is not the only advantage of inulin. Inulin can suppress the appetite and increase the feeling of fullness, and thus improve control over the amount of food consumed. Its use brings many he alth benefits, which can also be helpful in the epidemic of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Inulin can be used not only by people who have weight problems, but also by everyone who cares about their he alth and cares about proper nutrition.

Inulin as a prebiotic

Inulin is one of the components of dietary fiber. It is not digested in the human digestive tract and passes almost entirely unchanged to the large intestine, where it is fermented by the intestinal microflora. Inulin is aprebiotic , a food ingredient that stimulates the development of normal intestinal flora and thus has a positive effect on he alth.

After inulin supplementation, a decrease in stool pH was noticed and a significant increase in the amount of beneficial bacteria of the genusBifidobacterium , which are involved in digesting food, synthesizing some vitamins, breaking down toxic substances and increasing the body's resistance. Both of these factors inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in the intestines. Inulin regulates bowel movements by stimulating the contractility of the intestinal walls and reduces the tendency to constipation without making the intestines lazy.

Due to the low pH of the colon and regular bowel movements, the risk of colitis and the formation of polyps and ulcers, which may result in cancer, is reduced. Inulin may also reduce the risk of hormone-dependent cancers, mainly prostate and breast cancer - it inhibits the production of enzymes by the intestinal microflora, which are one of the causes of cancer.

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A single intake of about 30 g of inulin may cause intestinal discomfort, such as gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Inulina and cholesterol

Pure inulin, as well as plants that contain it in large amounts, have a positive effect on the lipid profile of the blood plasma. Taking 20-40 g of inulin a day lowers the level of total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol andtriglycerides.

This effect is due to the ability of inulin to bind fatty acids in the intestine. It is possible to raise HDL cholesterol levels, but the research results are contradictory in this regard. When consuming inulin, the amount of cholesterol absorbed in the intestines drops by up to 50%.

This is probably because the chyme becomes more sticky. Consuming inulin helps to maintain a proper lipid profile for both he althy people and those with cardiovascular problems and can be an important factor in the prevention of atherosclerosis.

Inulina 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 down the absorption of sugar from food into the blood and lowers the glycemic index of food consumed. Its use in food is beneficial for diabetics because it can additionally lower blood glucose levels.

In studies in rats, inulin was found to have this effect. Diabetic animals were divided into four groups, one of which was fed for 5 weeks on conventional diet, and the rest were fed with 5, 10 or 15% dry Jerusalem artichoke extract. In all rats fed with food supplemented with Jerusalem artichoke, a decrease in blood glucose levels was noted, by 24, 31 and 27%, respectively, compared to the control group.

Inulin and bone mineralization

Consuming inulin improves the bioavailability of certain minerals, i.e. increases their absorption into the bloodstream from drugs, supplements and food. Particular attention was paid to the increase in the 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 the mineral s alts. Better bioavailability of elements improves bone mineralization, which is especially important during puberty and menopause, when the risk of osteoporosis increases.

Use of inulin

Inulin is widely used in confectionery and confectionery, including 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 thickening agent, e.g. for soups and sauces, jelly and pudding, or after dissolving in water, as a gelling agent for the preparation of jellies and milk desserts. In home baked goods, e.g. cakes and bread, you can mix it with flour - then they will be less caloric and fresh for longer,and shortbread cookies - more crunchy. Inulin will also work as a stabilizer in home mayonnaise.

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Author: Time S.A

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Find out moreThis will be useful to you

Inulin has a positive effect on he alth in many aspects and it is certainly worth including it in your daily menu. Eating foods rich in inulin (Jerusalem artichoke, cereal coffees with chicory or dandelion root extract, onion, garlic, leek, bananas) or supplements with inulin

  • helps in controlling cholesterol and blood sugar levels,
  • regulates the work of the intestines,
  • nourishes the intestinal microflora,
  • is a factor protecting against cancer,
  • helps in the fight against overweight and obesity.

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