Psyllium husks are extracted from Plantago plants, which are grown throughout the world. Unlike other superfoods, psyllium husks offer just one key ingredient; fiber, which offers a host of benefits when consumed in adequate quantities. The Institute of Medicine recommends women get up to 25 grams of quality fiber a day, while men should consume up to 38 grams daily to maintain good health.
It’s estimated that the average person only gets around 15 grams of fiber a day from their diet, with some cultures such as the Inuits of the north and certain Asian cultures getting much less than that. Psyllium is the fiber found in natural laxative products like Metamucil – largely because it packs more fiber per gram than anything else, including flax or chia seeds.
Adding just one or two teaspoons of this inexpensive superfood to your daily diet can easily help most people meet their nutritional fiber needs. You can down it with a glass or two of water, or use it in the kitchen. Psyllium is so easy to integrate into your favorite dishes, as it’s largely tasteless and absorbs moisture so well, all but eliminating the sandy texture often noted when mixing it with water.
Soluble Fiber Rich Superfood
There are a select few foods on the planet that offer guilt-free fiber intake in such a small manageable serving size. Each teaspoon of psyllium contains approximately 7 grams of dietary fiber, with 6 of those grams being the most beneficial form: ie., soluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is aptly named because the body is able to break it down in the gut, whereas non-soluble fiber passes through the digestive tract unchanged. Insoluble fiber is often associated with the “roughage” we eat that’s thought to clean our bowels by effectively bulking stool and scrubbing our colon during elimination.
It’s now been well documented that insoluble fiber is pretty much inert in the body and basically offers very little health value when compared to soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps our stools to bulk and bring on the intestinal contractions that lead to a complete bowel movement, but there’s more to this puzzle.
Soluble fiber also gets converted to a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate; a powerful prebiotic. Butyrate is essential to immune system health, helps lower inflammation throughout the body, and is a key nutrient in the modulation of the motility of our digestive tract.
Consider how many foods exist that allow for a massive 6 gram dose of soluble fiber in a single teaspoon, 30-calorie serving size. An example of a common “high fiber” food that’s often consumed is whole wheat bread: 2 slices deliver a paltry 4 – 6 grams of largely insoluble fiber, in addition to hundreds of calories and 30 – 45 grams of sugar.
Psyllium Husk Nutrition
Psyllium should be consumed for the fiber, particularly the high proportion of beneficial soluble fiber it contains. Other than some iron, it doesn’t contain anything of value as far as nutrition goes.
Each level teaspoon of ground psyllium husk contains approximately:
• 30 calories
• 7 grams fiber (6 grams soluble)
• Iron: 8% D.V.
• Potassium: 2% D.V.
Top 5 Psyllium Supplements
|Brand||Viva Naturals||Herbal Secrets||Bulksupplements||Now Foods||Organic India|
|Overall Rating||5 / 5||4.9 / 5||4.8 / 5||5 / 5||5 / 5|
|Serving Size||1tsp – 5g||1 tsp||5g||2 Capsules||5g|
|Effectiveness||5 / 5||4.8 / 5||4.7 / 5||5 / 5||4.9 / 5|
|Quality||5 / 5||4.7 / 5||4.5 / 5||5 / 5||4.8 / 5|
|Taste||5 / 5||5 / 5||4.5 / 5||5 / 5||4.8 / 5|
|Digestibility||5 / 5||5 / 5||4.2 / 5||5 / 5||5 / 5|
Key Benefits of Consuming Psyllium Husk
1.Keeps you regular (digestive health)
Including curing chronic constipation brought on by a lack of fiber in the diet. It’s also beneficial for stabilizing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and reversing the reduced bowel elimination efficiency that’s typical in people over 50 years of age. The soluble fiber in psyllium swells when combined with water, bulking with the insoluble fiber also contained in the husk, which causes the intestines to contract more in order to speed up elimination.
Psyllium is the number one ingredient in natural laxatives like Metamucil and the many off-brand variants. That’s because it works better than all the rest, delivering a whopping 4 grams of fiber per tablespoon of whole, unground psyllium (ie., ground psyllium, referenced already contains 7 grams.)
Fact is, very few people take in the up to 38 grams of daily fiber currently recommended by most health organizations, and psyllium is both inexpensive and easy to take when considering how much fiber content it contains.
2.Heart health: Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
High overall cholesterol numbers over 200 mg/dl lead to the most common form of heart disease, atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the major arteries in the body, which reduces blood flow and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Arteries narrow as harmful low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) overwhelm beneficial high density lipoproteins, leading to these and other forms of fats to be oxidized by free radicals circulating in the blood.
Fiber is unique in that it can bind to cholesterol in the gut and shuttle it out of the body before it has a chance to be absorbed into the bloodstream, and potentially be oxidized. High fiber, low-calorie foods like psyllium husk also fill you up faster, and keep you fuller longer, meaning you’ll eat less and lose more weight. Even 5 extra pounds of fat on the waistline can disrupt LDL/HDL cholesterol balance and raise blood pressure.
Dietary fiber plays a role in preventing and helping to manage type II diabetes in a number of ways. First, it helps to maintain/restore proper glucose handling in the body, though science hasn’t yet identified the “why” or “how” psyllium is able to do this. Next, studies have shown that the addition of 5 grams of psyllium to the diet, twice daily, significantly lowers almost all the negative blood markers associated with prediabetes and full-blown type II diabetes within as little as an 8-week period.
Negative blood markers across the board are lowered when psyllium is added to the diet such as: elevated fasting glucose, postprandial glucose, HbA1c (3-month average of glucose readings), HDL/LDL cholesterol imbalance, triglycerides, and insulin levels. Diabetics taking anti-diabetic medications such as metformin, which often causes mild to severe gastric discomfort, may also find they tolerate such drugs better when up to 5 grams of psyllium is consumed along with their medication.
4.Weight loss and maintenance
Many of the most filling foods we all consume are loaded with calories. The over-consumption of meats, dairy, fruits, starchy vegetables, and desserts are the reason so many people gain unwanted pounds. Too much of these foods in the diet leads to a caloric excess for most people, particularly those who lead sedentary lifestyles.
The addition of a high fiber superfood like psyllium, which contains negligible calories for each gram of fiber it delivers, can help those seeking weight loss to curb their appetite for longer periods of time (study). Additional fiber also helps to clean out the intestines which not only leads to more weight loss, it can also lead to a slimming of the waistline as distension is reduced.
How to Choose the Best Psyllium Supplement
The main thing to look for when purchasing psyllium is to look for 100% organic, if you’re willing to bear the added cost of the organic designation. Non organic brands will still offer the same amount of fiber and iron, but usually are heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides to protect crop numbers.
Raw psyllium powder is far and away the most affordable way to get a hearty dose of psyllium any time of the day. It doesn’t tend to mix well with water or juices, meaning you need to stir the powder in vigorously and down your beverage fast to get all the product. Many find psyllium powder in liquid to be somewhat unpalatable, due to its grainy texture.
The good news is raw psyllium powder mixes great with smoothies, as well as with baked goods, and can also be added to the diet as a cereal and salad topper. It really has no discernible taste. Therefore, those looking for all the health benefits at minimal cost should consider buying psyllium in bulk, purchasing either the entire husks, or in ground powder form (ie., powder generally costs a bit more due to added step of processing it).
Capsules are fine, but they can get pricey if you’re trying to dose by the tablespoon sizes that are recommended by experts like Dr. Mercola and Dr. Axe online. This, in addition to the potential for non-beneficial fillers often added to such products.
Psyllium Husk Supplement Reviews
Best Psyllium Husk Powder
Viva Naturals Organic Psyllium Husk Powder
I’ve long been a fan of the Viva Naturals brand of health food products. Spending a little extra money over other brands offers a product that’s much more pleasing to the palette. Not only is Viva Naturals psyllium organically grown, it’s meticulously de-husked during manufacturing to ensure no other plant or insect material makes it into your body. This product is also milled down extra fine, making it much easier to swallow when used in water, smoothies, or your favorite dishes. Each batch is third party tested to ensure the final product is 100% pesticide and herbicide free.
Herbal Secrets Organic Psyllium Husks
Another strong contender for the world’s best psyllium husk product comes from Herbal Secrets. This organic psyllium husk supplement is also free of pesticides and herbicides, as well as being meticulously third party tested and certified organic by the USDA. Unlike the Viva Natural’s product mentioned above, you’re getting the entire non-ground husk in each container of Herbal Secrets. The company only sources U.S. farmed psyllium, and each grain inside is 100% vegan and non GMO.
Bulksupplements Pure Psyllium Husk Powder
As I mentioned earlier, organic is best when dealing with psyllium, if you want to avoid taking in extra pesticides and herbicides. Bulksupplements makes no claims of being organic, non GMO, vegan, or anything other than giving you the best India-sourced psyllium they can. However, this is one of the most popular distributors of psyllium and other superfoods around the world. If you’re looking for the best price possible, you’ll pay as little as $0.03/gram if you’re willing to buy a kilogram or more at a time. They also offer discounted psyllium in capsule form, but nobody can beat their bulk powder prices.
Best Psyllium Husk Capsules
Now Foods Psyllium Husk Caps
It’s hard to find a better value than NOW health food supplements. These aren’t organic, so please keep that in mind before purchasing. This vegetarian formulation gives you 1.4 grams of psyllium husk per serving, as well as 100 mg of apple pectin powder to aid in digestive tract health – all in easy to swallow capsules. Two or three servings a day of this affordable capsule form of psyllium can definitely help with weight loss and management, will make passing stools much easier, and help to lower cholesterol.
Hopefully it’s now clear just how essential psyllium is in the human diet. There are a few contenders like flax and chia seeds, but no food out there can match the fiber-packed punch offered by psyllium husks. It’s so inexpensive and easy to incorporate into beverages and a wide range of dishes.
Considering how beneficial psyllium is to our all over gut health, in addition to promoting a healthy heart, and promoting diabetes prevention and treatment, only a fool could resist the urge to pick up a bag today and start feeling the immediate health benefits this superfood can offer.