(Natural News) Psyllium husk is an unusual ingredient that has attracted a lot of attention recently. Originally used as a supplement and natural laxative, health buffs and dieters — especially those on a keto or vegan diet — have begun using it as a substitute for some common food ingredients. Since the invention of various recipes featuring it as a key ingredient, many people have adopted the use of psyllium husk for healthy baking. But what are the benefits of this supplement and how does it complement keto and vegan diets?
What is psyllium husk?
Psyllium husk is the soluble fiber found in the husk (the outer covering of a seed) of Plantago ovata seeds. P. ovata, also called blond plantain or desert Indianwheat, is a medicinal plant native to parts of Asia, the Mediterranean and North Africa.
In both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), psyllium husk has found use as a natural remedy for heartburn and as a detoxifying agent. It is also used to manage the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Today, psyllium husk is better known as a natural laxative and a health supplement that promotes bowel regularity.
Psyllium husk: Nutritional and health benefits
Psyllium husk is an excellent source of dietary fiber. One tablespoon of psyllium husk (powdered or whole) provides 7 g of fiber or 25 percent of the daily recommended fiber intake. The same serving also contains 30 mg of calcium and 0.2 mg of iron.
Psyllium husk is a great substitute for eggs and gluten, which is why it is suitable for people on a vegan diet, especially those who wish to go gluten-free. As a low-carb source of fiber, it is also perfect for those on a keto diet. Psyllium husk can be used to make low-carb bread, flatbread, wraps, muffins and other baked goods. In fact, many people use it together with low-carb flours to make baking products with a wheat-like texture.
Here are the health benefits offered by psyllium husk:
It promotes digestive health.
Psyllium husk is often referred to as a bulk-forming laxative. Due to its ability to absorb liquid, it naturally swells and forms a gel, giving stools more bulk. This helps ease their passage through the digestive tract. Psyllium husk can also absorb some sugars, toxins and carbohydrates in the gut, which helps keep the digestive system healthy.
It supports heart health.
Fiber is an essential nutrient that benefits the heart as it helps control blood cholesterol levels. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, adding psyllium husk to a healthy diet significantly reduces total blood cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol levels. Psyllium husk can also lower blood pressure and strengthen the heart muscle, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
It helps with weight loss.
In the same study, researchers at Curtin University in Australia found that psyllium husk supplementation also helps obese or overweight people lose weight. In fact, 12 weeks of eating a healthy diet and taking the high-fiber supplement significantly reduced the participants’ body mass index (BMI) and total body fat. This effect is due to psyllium husk’s ability to absorb liquid in the body, which can make a person feel full and decrease his food intake.
It helps with diabetes management.
Besides controlling a person’s appetite, psyllium husk also helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. The Australian study also reported significant reductions in the participants’ insulin levels after 12 weeks of high-fiber psyllium husk supplementation. This suggests that consuming psyllium husk can help diabetics maintain a healthy glycemic balance.
How to use psyllium husk in recipes
Psyllium husk comes in two forms: psyllium husk powder and whole psyllium husk. While the powder is simply ground whole psyllium husk, these two are not directly interchangeable. Four teaspoons of whole psyllium husk is roughly equivalent to three teaspoons of the powder.
In vegan recipes, psyllium husk makes a great binder and substitute for eggs. Replace one egg by mixing half-a-teaspoon of psyllium husk powder with 1/4 cup water. You can ground whole psyllium husk yourself for easy conversion. Using psyllium husk as a binder also works in keto recipes as it is low in absorbable carbohydrates, which is what the diet calls for.
Adding psyllium husk to your diet is a great and healthy way of increasing your fiber intake. However, people with sensitive digestive systems should take care when using psyllium husk, as too much fiber can cause bloating, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. And while psyllium husk is a great laxative, it can make constipation worse without proper hydration.
To learn more about psyllium husk and other vegan-friendly foods, visit Superfoods.news.