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J Nutr. 1999 Jul;129(7 Suppl):1471S-3S. doi: 10.1093/jn/129.7.1471S.

Effects of inulin on lipid parameters in humans.

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Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AP, UK.


Convincing lipid-lowering effects of the fructooligosaccharide inulin have been demonstrated in animals, yet attempts to reproduce similar effects in humans have generated conflicting results. This may be because of the much lower doses used in humans as a result of the adverse gastrointestinal symptoms exhibited by most subjects consuming daily doses in excess of 30 g. Two studies that fed either oligofructose (20 g/d) or inulin (14 g/d) observed no effect on fasting total, LDL or HDL cholesterol, or serum triglycerides. Two other studies that fed inulin either in a breakfast cereal (9 g/d) or as a powdered addition to beverages and meals (10 g/d) reported similar reductions in fasting triglycerides (-27 and -19%, respectively). In one of these studies, total and LDL cholesterol concentrations were also modestly reduced (5 and 7%, respectively). Because animal studies have identified inhibition of hepatic fatty acid synthesis as the major site of action for the triglyceride-lowering effects of inulin, and because this pathway is relatively inactive in humans unless a high carbohydrate diet is fed, future attempts to demonstrate lipid-lowering effects of inulin should consider the nature of the background diet as a determinant of response.

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