What is Inulin?
Inulin is a nondigestible carbohydrate source of fiber derived from a vast array of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and wheat. It is a prebiotic.
Inulin originates from a plant-based source such as herbs, wheat, fruits, and vegetables.
Inulin serves as insoluble fiber and is beneficial to digestive health.
The chemical makeup of inulin breaks down into multiple simple sugars linked together to
form the oligosaccharide of inulin.
In baking, inulin can be added as a powder to improve final product attributes and add a little extra sweetness to the baked item. In white breads, inulin has exhibited dough improvement properties such as better crumb color, strength, and improved maillard reaction, resulting in the desirable browning of the outer crumb layer and high flavor. Such improvements can be explained by the occurrence of the breakdown within the linkages between the simple sugars of inulin. This results in a multitude of low molecular weight sugars that reside on the crust, in addition to the naturally present reducing sugars from an ingredient source other than that of inulin.
Inulin is very beneficial to health upon consumption because of the intestinal bacterial
benefits, as well as the capability to decrease or inhibit the production of triglycerides in the body. In regard to the benefits for the live bacteria residing in the human intestine, inulin serves as an energy source for bacteria, which aids in proper digestion, making it a prebiotic. Medically, those individuals who have high cholesterol or blood-triglyceride levels are prescribed higher daily servings of foods high in inulin to lower levels to an adequate value, in addition to aiding in weight loss.
Maintaining adequate consumption of beneficial fiber such as inulin is vital to a healthy
diet, the consensus of inulin intake is 10-15 grams per day from foods such as
wheat, bananas, apples, asparagus, onion, garlic, and chicory root.
- Chicory Root: Substitute for sugar or fat, humectant, thickening agent, or binding agent used in a multitude of baked items such as reduced fat, sugar-free cookies, bars, biscuits, pretzels, pancakes, French fry coatings, crackers, chips, and tortillas. Chicory root is the primary source of inulin industrially currently utilized.
- Vegetables and plant based sources: Sources of inulin include many vegetables such as artichokes, agave nectar, yam, leek, garlic, asparagus, onion, and roots derived from plant sources such as dandelion, chicory.
- Fruits: Wide variety, such as bananas.
- Herbs: Sources of inulin are cinnamon, parsley, powdered red chili peppers, ground black pepper.
- Wheat: Derived from the wheat grain, primarily used via a flour source.