Effects of dietary inulin on serum lipids

J Nutr. 1999 Jul;129(7 Suppl):1474S-7S. doi: 10.1093/jn/129.7.1474S.


Inulin is a carbohydrate belonging to a class of compounds known as fructans. Because inulin is resistant to digestion in the upper gastrointestional tract it reaches the large intestine essentially intact, where it is fermented by indigenous bacteria. Thus, it may be classified as a soluble dietary fiber. Soluble fibers have been shown to modulate serum lipids. A recent study examined the effect of consuming three servings per day of inulin-containing foods, compared with the effect of similar foods without inulin, on serum lipid profiles among hypercholesterolemic men and women. In addition, the practicality of including 18 g/d of inulin in a low fat diet was investigated. The recent study randomized, double-blind, crossover trial with two 6-wk treatment periods, separated by a 6-wk washout. Men and women (n = 21) with baseline LDL increased significantly (7.4 and 12.3%, respectively) during the control phase. There were small, nonsignificant declines in total (1.3%) and LDL-C (2.1%) during the inulin phase. Thus, differences in response between periods (inulin - control) were significant (P < 0.05) for LDL-C (-14.4%) and total cholesterol (-8.7%). Mild gastrointestinal discomfort was more common during the inulin than the control food phase; however, the gastrointestinal side-effect profile of inulin was similar to that of other soluble fibers. Although it was not possible to draw firm conclusions, inulin may have blunted the hypercholesterolemic effects observed during consumption of control foods. Additional research will be required to confirm the possible lipid-modulating properties of dietary inulin in humans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy*
  • Inulin / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Triglycerides
  • Inulin
  • Cholesterol