Hi. Inulin is appearing in lots of products these days. I would love to hear your opinion on whether those products are worth buying or should they be avoided? Thank you!
Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants including jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, onions and garlic. It is being used in many processed foods these days because it can replace sugar, fat, and flour, which is an attractive quality for many diet foods. It is also considered a form of soluble fiber so it is added to products to increase their fiber content and is used in fiber supplements. Most inulin is not digested or absorbed in the stomach. It then travels to the colon where bacteria are able to use it to grow. Inulin is attractive because it does not spike blood glucose levels or triglycerides. No upper limit has been set on the amount of inulin you should consume but your body is only able to partially digest this polysaccharide. Consuming a large amount of inulin can cause gas and bloating.
Our recommendation is to eat minimally processed foods, particularly plant-based foods, to get the nutrients and fiber your body needs. Small amounts of added inulin are probably not harmful, however. Remember that many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber too so they can have some of the same health promoting effects as inulin!