The Herbs of Smoothie Essentials: Inulin

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Add a Boost with Trim & Fit Blend, featuring Inulin

Inulin, a starchy substance produced by the roots of certain plants such as chicory, is becoming a more and more common as people look for ways to get more fiber in their diets. Once unheard of, inulin is a common ingredient of high-fiber food products such as breads and muffins.

A soluble fiber, inulin is considered a compound known as a fructan, and has health benefits similar to other fibers from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Considered pre-biotic, meaning it stimulates the growth of “good” bacteria in the digestive tract, inulin provides the perfect environment for bifidobacteria, the pro-biotic bacteria in yogurt that we all know is so good for our guts.

These helpful bacteria, in turn, maintain healthy digestion and improve nutrient absorption. When good bacteria have the right environment and nutrition it is harder for “bad” types of invasive bacteria to get a foothold.

Research seems to indicate that inulin is particularly beneficial with regards to calcium uptake, which is necessary for strong and healthy bones. It has even been show to improve bone mineral density in teenagers and may have an effect of magnesium uptake.

Inulin is also near zero on the glycemic index, making it a good choice for diabetics, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, and others looking to reduce sugar in their diets. It has also been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, the fats that thicken the bloodstream and clog arteries. Of course, as a fiber, inulin relieves constipation.

Since inulin is a powder, it can be added to almost any kind of recipe – like breads and yogurt – without adding grit. The food industry often uses it as a substitute for fats and sugars since it lends itself to a variety of favors and textures, unlike bran.

Dietary sources of fructan include agave, dandelion, jicama, jerusalem artichoke and onion, though its found in trace amounts in most root vegetables and levels can vary depend on when in the season they were harvested. Plants use inulin to store energy, mostly in their roots.

Maybe it’s time to see if this high fiber pre-biotic is right for you.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber-rich-foods/MY00741

  http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1048-INULIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=1048&activeIngredientName=INULIN

http://www.naturalnews.com/016620_inulin_health_studies.html

 http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/11/2493S.long

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