Inulin is a water-soluble starchy fiber found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. These include things like wheat, onions, bananas, and asparagus. It is often considered a health food, since it is a form of edible fiber which is not digested in the stomach, but facilitates probiotic (beneficial bacteria) further on in the digestive system. It is a "fructan" which means that it is composed of fructose molecule chains which are linked in a specific way which the body cannot digest.
Inulin seems to reduce triglyceride levels in humans by up to 19% after eight weeks of consuming 10-14 grams daily. Many suggest that it helps with weight loss, if for no other reason because it is a sort of filler with is not easily absorbed by the body. Inulin provides about 1.5 calories per gram, which is a relatively low caloric value.
Some also believe that moderate amounts of inulin help reduce the risk of diabetes. However, they also sometimes say that large quantities could actually cause type 2 diabetes, and therefore recommend deliberate but moderate consumption.
While Inulin is found in many parts of nature, and has been refined for numerous purposes, the following are some particularly good natural sources. (percentages shown by weight)
- Chicory root: 36%-48%
- Jerusalem artichoke: 16%-20%
- Garlic: 9%-16%
- Jicama: 10%-13%
- Yacon root: 7%-8%
- Onions: 1%-8%
- Asparagus: 2%-3%