Psyllium, a Small Healthy Seed
Recognized for millennia for its health benefits, psyllium is a perennial herb native to India, with tiny seeds (1,000 seeds weigh less than 2 g), hence its name from the Greek psyllia, which means flea. The seeds can be black, brown or blond depending on the species. Like chia seeds, once in contact with a liquid, they produce a gel called mucilage.
The food industry uses blond psyllium as a thickener or stabilizer in some prepared foods, such as frozen desserts. It is also widely used to increase the soluble fiber content of several products, including breakfast cereals.
Why consume it?
To promote better intestinal health
Psyllium is a natural laxative because the gel it forms helps to increase the volume of stool improving its transit and facilitating evacuation. The effect is also positive in cases of diarrhea, because psyllium helps to absorb excess water.
To lower cholesterol
Research has shown positive effects of taking psyllium on cholesterol levels in people with hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
To stabilize blood sugar
Research on patients with type 2 diabetes has shown that psyllium helps to lower blood sugar levels. In order to increase its benefits, it seems better to consume psyllium during meals, mixed with food.
Where to buy it?
Psyllium is sold in health food stores as granules (or husks) of dried or powdered seeds. It can also be found in capsules at the pharmacy.
How to consume it?
Before starting to consume it, check whether there are any interactions with any medications you are taking. It is best to start with a small dose, making sure to accompany the consumption of psyllium with a good amount of water to avoid clogging the digestive tract.
You can integrate it into your diet by adding it to your smoothies, fruit compotes, cereals, soups.
Try these recipes of low-carb breads, which are using psyllium to increase their fiber content:
- Z-h Wei, H Wang, X-y Chen, B-s Wang, Z-x Rong, B-s Wang, B-h Su & H-z Chen Time- and dose-dependent effect of psyllium on serum lipids in mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia: a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume 63, pages 821–827 (2009) https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn200849
- Gibb RD, McRorie JW Jr, Russell DA, Hasselblad V, D’Alessio DA Psyllium fiber improves glycemic control proportional to loss of glycemic control: a meta-analysis of data in euglycemic subjects, patients at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and patients being treated for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1604-14. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.106989. Epub 2015 Nov 11 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26561625
- S. Christodoulides E. Dimidi K. C. Fragkos A. D. Farmer K. Whelan S. M. Scott Systematic review with meta-analysis: effect of fibre supplementation on chronic idiopathic constipation in adults Wiley Online Library May 2016 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/apt.13662