Food

Inulin: Pet Food Ingredients A to Z

Today we move to the letter “I” in our ingredient A to Z series and are featuring Inulin as our ingredient of the day.

What is Inulin?

Inulin L

According to Wikipedia, Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants. Inulins are dietary fibers that are classified and known as fructans.  Chicory is a common source for commercially utilized Inulin.  Inulins belong to a class of dietary fibers known as fructans.

Common names for Inulin

The most common name variations for Inulin include chicory extract, chicory inulin, dahlia extract, dahlia inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and prebioitcs.

Why is Inulin included in pet food?

Inulin is added to pet food for two key reasons: 1) it is somewhat sweet and can be used to increase a food’s sweetness even though it is a relatively low calorie alternative to other fats or sugar and 2) it can be used as a prebiotic to aid digestion.

Common benefits or risks of Inulin

Benefits: There are many benefits of Inulin.  Inulin is a low calorie carbohydrate and fiber source with about 25% less calories than sugar and about 10-12% less calories than fat.  Inulin can increase calcium absorption and can be characterized as a prebiotic, which is a substance that feeds the healthy bacteria in the body’s intestinal system.

Risks: Too much Inulin can produce bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people, as would most any diet with too much fiber.  We have not found any research studies related to the levels of Inulin needed to cause similar gastric distress in dogs or cats.

Miscellaneous facts about Inulin

  • Some of the more common sources of Inulin include:

    • Agave

    • Banana

    • Chicory

    • Dandelion

    • Garlic

    • Jerusalem artichoke

    • Jicama

Sources and further reading

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inulin

http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN96_05%2FS0007114506003151a.pdf&code=08883547bac74aba1339879b90c07d0c

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/12_7/features/Probiotic-Supplements-for-Canine_16138-1.html

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-inulin.htm

http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/129/7/1454S.full

atoz2014-BANNER-910_zps8f01a155

Steve Pelletier
Steve Pelletier VP, Food

Steve is an advocate for healthy pet food offerings.