Looking for another reason to eat more plants? Check out the health benefits of inulin and how to get more in your diet

  • 1 Minute Read
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you prepare meals from scratch, which often involves using onions and garlic, then you'll want to read on to learn about the health benefits of inulin. Inulin, a type of dietary fiber commonly found in plant foods, boasts several health benefits. These include aiding in weight loss, controlling blood sugar, and promoting gut health.

Health benefits of inulin

Want to reap the health benefits of inulin? Eat these foods

In addition to onions and garlic, inulin is found naturally in a variety of foods:

You'll also find inulin in processed foods in the form of chicory root. Manufacturers add chicory root to products as a fat replacer. It is commonly used in ice cream, yogurt or snack bars to create a creamy texture without adding calories. If you see chicory root in the ingredient list, you know it contains inulin.

How does this type of dietary fiber work in the body?

Inulin works by fertilizing the helpful bacteria in the colon. It passes through the upper part of the digestive tract and then is fermented when it arrives in the colon. Many people are familiar with the term probiotic (helpful bacteria living in the colon). Dietary fiber such as inulin works by feeding these helpful bacteria and influencing the overall health of the microbiome.

What are the health benefits of inulin?

Who might need to avoid inulin in food and supplements?

Because inulin is fermented in the colon, it can cause digestive side effects like bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, and more frequent bowel movements. For this reason, individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may want to avoid inulin containing foods and supplements. Chicory root (a common source of inulin) is in the same family as ragweed. Individuals who have an allergy to ragweed should talk with their doctors before taking chicory root. Taking large amounts of chicory root during pregnancy is possibly unsafe and should be avoided.

Remember, the health benefits of inulin start in the kitchen

Looking for some dairy-free, gluten-free, and plant-forward recipes? Both of these recipes are easy to prepare and provide you with some naturally occurring inulin.

Asparagus leek soup (Pairs well with grilled chicken or salmon) Added soon to MyNetDiary Premium recipe collection

Sauteed dandelion greens (If you are trying to lose weight, cut the olive oil in half) Recipe from Epicurious

To experience the health benefits of inulin, slowly add it to your diet

Move slowly when adding or increasing inulin in your diet. This type of dietary fiber impacts people differently and side effects, especially when added to processed foods, may occur. To see how your body responds to increased inulin, try incorporating inulin rich foods on a regular basis while paying attention to how your body feels. In the end, it is not worth it to suffer from stomach troubles, simply in hopes of reaping the health benefits of inulin.

Want to learn more about fiber and gut health?

Great food sources of fiber
How probiotics may impact weight loss

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Updated: June 2, 2020

Other Health Issues->Gastrointestinal (Gut)
Jun 3, 2020

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