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What is Inulin? The Benefits of Soluble Fiber

Getting enough fiber is an important part of eating healthy, and getting enough - and of the right kinds - is sometimes hard to do. That's why inulin fiber has grown in reputation, thanks to its adaptability and health benefits.

Inulin is a naturally-occurring soluble fiber, found in many kinds of fruits and vegetables. Inulin fiber is categorized as a "prebiotic," meaning when your stomach dissolves inulin, it becomes food for the good bacteria ("probiotics") in your digestive system. Prebiotics help boost the activity of those beneficial bacteria, helping to improve digestion overall. In doing so, inulin can open the door to many other health benefits.

Inulin Benefits

Ongoing studies and research have illustrated that there are many benefits of soluble fiber, including inulin. Among these discoveries are:

  • Promotes weight loss - As a fiber, inulin can help slow digestion and help you feel fuller for longer, aiding in your weight loss journey.
  • Promotes bone strength - Some studies suggest that inulin boosts the absorption of calcium in your body, which helps remineralize and strengthen your bones.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels - Inulin fiber can slow your body's digestion of carbohydrates, which helps to regulate the release of sugar into your bloodstream without harsh spikes.
  • May reduce cholesterol - Foods high in soluble fiber help remove cholesterol (in the form of bile acids) from the digestive tract as they are excreted in your waste.
  • Adds sweetness - Inulin is made up of fructose molecules, giving it a slightly sweet flavor without the high calories and carbs of fructose or other sugars.

Sources of Inulin

The number one natural source of inulin is chicory root; in a 100 gram measurement of chicory root fiber, inulin takes up nearly 48% percent. You may be familiar with chicory root as a staple of New Orleans cuisine, where it is ground and used as a coffee flavoring. (Or, sometimes, as an entire substitution.)

Other naturally-occurring foods high in inulin include:

  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Leeks
  • Jicama
  • Onions
  • Wild Yams

You may also find inulin in capsule form or supplements, which some people may find easier to incorporate into their diet. However, inulin fiber's rising popularity as a food additive also means that many of your favorite packaged foods now contain this beneficial soluble fiber. In fact, inulin is a key ingredient in some Atkins® Endulge products, for a sweet boost of beneficial fiber. 

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