Inulin is a storage polysaccharide, typically used by the plant as an alternative to starch. Inulin has 25-35% of the caloric value of standard carbohydrates, can be mildly sweet (oligofructose, a subclass of inulin), and is used to bulk foods to reduce caloric value, to replace and mimic fat, to increase soluble dietary fiber content, and as a prebiotic.
Inulin is classified as a prebiotic as its presence helps feed the growth of Bifidobacteria. This leads to it being marketed as beneficial to gastrointestinal health. However, the fiber can cause indigestion, bloating, gas, and possible overgrowth of nondesirable bacteria. It is classified as a FODMAP, a poorly absorbed carbohydrate whose exclusion from the diet has been recommended in a variety of gastrointestinal disorders. Inulin does not impact blood sugar, may improve calcium absorption, and has been associated with decreased colon cancer risk.
A study of inulin tolerance concluded that most healthy people can tolerate no more than 5 to 10 grams of inulin before experiencing discomfort.
Cereals, granola bars, fiber-enriched products, root vegetables, fiber supplements, ice creams, cookies, dairy-based nutritional beverages, frozen desserts, yogurt, reduced-fat products.
Chicory root extract, oligosaccharide, oligofructose