What Is Inulin?

Smiling woman eating toast in kitchen
Smiling woman eating toast in kitchen

Inulin may contribute to fullness.

To help avoid overeating, make sure you’re incorporating foods rich in soluble fiber, like inulin, into your diet.2 Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance when it’s combined with liquid in the body, which helps slow down the rate at which your stomach processes food and helps stabilize blood sugar.2 When your stomach stays full for longer, you’ll be less likely to overeat, which is a known enemy of gut health.2

What Foods Contain Inulin?

As mentioned, inulin is a naturally occurring fiber that is produced by numerous fruits, vegetables and grains. Inulin is available from the following food sources:2,3

  • Oats
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Chicory root
  • Soybeans
  • Garlic
  • Wheat
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus

Ways to Incorporate More Inulin Into Your Diet

With its many health benefits that support gut health, adding more inulin to your diet is a great way to support overall health. Here are some ideas on how to add more inulin-rich foods to your diet:

  • Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal.

    Since oats are a great source of inulin, why not start the day off on the right foot? Top off your morning oats with sliced fresh fruit, yogurt, or nut butter for added health benefits and a balanced meal. Oats are a delicious and budget-friendly way to add a little fiber to your breakfast.
  • Swap potatoes for Jerusalem artichokes.

    Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, are similar in taste to a potato or a turnip. You can use them in any dish that you’d normally use potatoes or root vegetables to get their health benefits. Try tray baking them along with other vegetables or turning them into a gratin dish.
  • Give plant-based protein a try.

    Soybeans have a number of health benefits in addition to being a source of inulin. Eating soy products can help lower cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease.4 Soy is available as a range of different products, including soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and soy flour.4 Try adding tofu or tempeh to a stir fry or swap regular milk for soy milk in your breakfast cereal.
  • Embrace spring vegetables like asparagus.

    Asparagus is chock-full of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins B6, B12, B9, E and K, and minerals selenium, iron, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.5 Asparagus can be paired with leeks—another inulin-rich food!—in a number of seasonal dishes, like soups and salads.

The Importance of Prebiotic Fiber

Eating a diet rich in prebiotic fiber like inulin is an important component to maintaining gut health. Your gut’s microbiome requires both prebiotics and probiotics to stay balanced.6 Prebiotic plant fiber helps feed and promote the growth of gut bacteria, which is necessary for digestion.6 Because prebiotic fiber sources contain complex carbohydrates, they don’t get digested so are able to feed the microbes in your gut.6 Whether you choose to integrate prebiotic fiber through food sources like oats, soybeans, Jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus, or take a dietary supplement, make sure you’re consuming adequate amounts of dietary fiber to keep your system running smoothly.

Show ReferencesHide References

  1. Inulin. National Library of Medicine. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Inulin. Accessed 4/7/2023.
  2. Does Inulin Help Improve Gut Health? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/inulin-benefits/. Accessed 4/7/2023.
  3. Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6041804/. Accessed 4/7/2023.
  4. Soy. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007204.htm. Accessed 4/7/2023.
  5. Green and White Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis): A Source of Developmental, Chemical and Urinary Intrigue. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7022954/. Accessed 4/7/2023.
  6. Prebiotics, probiotics and your health. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058. Accessed 4/7/2023.

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