Addition of Inulin to a Moderately High-Carbohydrate Diet Reduces Hepatic Lipogenesis and Plasma Triacylglycerol Concentrations in Humans

Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar;77(3):559-64. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/77.3.559.


Background: A high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet is recommended for the prevention of atherosclerosis, because it reduces plasma cholesterol concentrations. However, such a diet can increase plasma triacylglycerol concentrations--an undesirable side effect. The addition of nondigestible carbohydrate could reduce the risk of elevated triacylglycerol concentrations.

Objective: The objective was to determine whether the addition of a moderate dose of inulin to a moderately high-carbohydrate diet would decrease hepatic lipogenesis and plasma triacylglycerol concentrations and have a cholesterol-lowering action.

Design: Eight healthy subjects were studied twice in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study after consuming for 3 wk a moderately high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet (55% of total energy) plus an oral placebo or 10 g high-performance inulin/d. Hepatic lipogenesis and cholesterol synthesis (deuterated water method), plasma lipid concentrations, fatty acid synthase, acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1, and sterol responsive element binding protein 1c messenger RNA concentrations were measured in adipose tissue at the end of the 2 diet periods.

Results: Plasma triacylglycerol concentrations and hepatic lipogenesis were lower after inulin than after placebo ingestion (P < 0.05), but cholesterol synthesis and plasma cholesterol concentrations were not significantly different between the 2 groups. None of the adipose tissue messenger RNA concentrations changed significantly after inulin ingestion.

Conclusions: The addition of high-performance inulin to a moderately high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet has a beneficial effect on plasma lipids by decreasing hepatic lipogenesis and plasma triacylglycerol concentrations. These results support the use of nondigestible carbohydrate for reducing risk factors for atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Body Water / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / biosynthesis
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Deuterium
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inulin / administration & dosage*
  • Lipids / biosynthesis
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Placebos
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Triglycerides
  • Inulin
  • Cholesterol
  • Deuterium