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benefits of jerusalem artichoke

Prebiotic Benefits of Jerusalem Artichoke

Positive Effects of Jerusalem Artichoke as a Prebiotic

Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary compounds that feed probiotics and increase colonies of good bacteria in the gut. One powerful dietary prebiotic is Jerusalem artichoke, a sunflower whose tuber can be eaten as a root vegetable. In its raw form, Jerusalem artichoke contains known prebiotics inulin and fructooligosaccharides.

Already, several scientific studies have examined the prebiotic properties and effects of Jerusalem artichoke, and, in the following sections, you’ll find the results of many of these studies conveniently broken down for the layperson. Read on to learn why Jerusalem artichoke is such a potent and effective prebiotic and how it can help you improve your overall health and wellness.

Prebiotic Effects of Jerusalem Artichoke in Pigs

In a 2016 article in Archives of Animal Nutrition called “The effects of inulin, dried Jerusalem artichoke tuber and a multispecies probiotic preparation on microbiota ecology and immune status of the large intestine in young pigs,” researchers studied the effects of multiple prebiotics and probiotics on several factors involved in healthy digestive activity in young pigs.

The large intestines of pigs provide for the greatest production and activity of the microbiota in the species’ body, affecting many aspects of health, from disease-resistance and general health and performance to gastrointestinal and immune function.

inulin vs. jersusalem artichoke FOS

In the study, 48 piglets were divided into six groups, each receiving a different diet. For starters, half the groups were fed a probiotic supplement with their diets while the other half were not.

The researchers then divided each of those two larger groups into three smaller groups, two of which had additional compounds added to their diet—either dried Jerusalem artichoke or inulin from chicory root—to assess and compare their prebiotic properties and potential.

This produced six distinct groups, as follows:

  1. Probiotic supplement + no prebiotic
  2. Probiotic supplement + Jerusalem artichoke
  3. Probiotic supplement + inulin from chicory root
  4. No probiotic supplement + no prebiotic
  5. No probiotic supplement + Jerusalem artichoke
  6. No probiotic supplement + inulin from chicory root
prebiotic inulin in jerusalem artichoke

After 40 days on the diet, researchers examined tissue and digesta samples from each subject. Among the results they found were several notable responses in those piglets fed Jerusalem artichoke, specifically:

  • An increase in caecal valeric acid levels
  • A decrease in isoacids concentrations in the colon
  • A reduction of β-glucosidase and β-glucuronidase activity in the mid-colon
  • An increase in populations of Bifidobacterium spp. in the distal and proximal colon

These observations led the researchers to conclude the following:

  1. Jerusalem artichoke beneficially altered the microbiota ecology in the piglets’ large intestines more than inulin from chicory root.
  2. The inclusion or exclusion of a probiotic supplement in the diet had no bearing on this effect.

As a result, the researchers were able to determine that Jerusalem artichoke indeed has prebiotic benefits, including increasing healthy bacteria populations, regulating pH and improving fatty acid composition in the colon.

prebiotic-fiber

Prebiotic Effects of Jerusalem Artichoke in Rats

In a 2014 article published in Wiley Online Library entitled “Prebiotic potential of Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) in Wistar rats: effects of levels of supplementation on hindgut fermentation, intestinal morphology, blood metabolites and immune response,” researchers divided 72 rats into four groups, three of which were fed different proportions of Jerusalem artichoke tubers in their diet. The fourth group was a control group that received no Jerusalem artichoke at all in its diet.

After 12 weeks, researchers noted signs of greater cellular immunity and found the following positive signs of gut health in all three groups fed Jerusalem artichoke over the control group:

  • More favorable blood hemoglobin, blood sugar, urea and calcium readings
  • Greater intestinal tissue mass and cecal depth
  • Reduced pH levels and ammonia concentrations
  • Increased lactate and total fatty acid concentrations

As a result, researchers were able to conclude that Jerusalem artichoke benefited both intestinal morphometry and hindgut fermentation or, more simply put, the way the intestines form and develop and the digestive processes of the rats studied. In addition, Jerusalem artichoke appears to have benefited their immunity and blood metabolites.

Prebiotic Effects of Jerusalem Artichoke in Mice

In a 2020 article published in Microorganisms entitled “Combinatorial Effects of Soluble, Insoluble, and Organic Extracts from Jerusalem Artichokes on Gut Microbiota in Mice,” researchers broke down Jerusalem artichoke into three constituent parts in order to see each of their effects on the combined factors of gut health already associated individually with digestive health that prebiotics like inulin, such as is found in Jerusalem artichoke, impact.

They looked at water-soluble, insoluble and organic Jerusalem artichoke extracts and evaluated their impacts on fecal microbiota and cecal pH and short-chain fatty acids. What they found is that, by combining water-soluble and organic Jerusalem artichoke extract together, they were able to reduce pH levels and increase short-chain fatty acid levels in the intestines, leading to improvements in intestinal microbiota.

From this, the researchers concluded that both water-soluble and organic Jerusalem artichoke extracts have bioactive properties that provide beneficial effects for the production and composition of microbiota in the gut. Moreover, they even suggest that powdered Jerusalem artichoke may show greater promise for these benefits than conventional inulin supplements.

benefits of jerusalem artichoke

Conclusion

As these studies show in piglets, rats and mice, respectively, Jerusalem artichoke helps improve numerous intestinal factors like pH, fatty-acid production and cellular tissue composition that all serve individually and collectively to promote increased proliferation of probiotics and beneficial bacteria in the gut. The result is the potential for improved digestion, immunity and metabolism among other health and performance measures. 

Nutritional information for Jerusalem Artichoke based on 1 cup (150g) of raw Jerusalem Artichoke

Water 117g

Energy 110kcal

Protein 3g

Total lipid (fat) 0.015g

Carbohydrate, by difference 26.2g

Fiber, total dietary 2.4g

Sugars, total including NLEA 14.4g

Calcium, Ca 21mg

Iron, Fe 5.1mg

Magnesium, Mg 25.5mg

Phosphorus, P 117mg

Potassium, K 644mg

Sodium, Na 6mg

Zinc, Zn 0.18mg

Copper, Cu 0.21mg

Selenium, Se 1.05µg

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 6 mg

Thiamin 0.3mg

Riboflavin 0.09mg

Niacin 1.95mg

Vitamin B-6 0.116mg

Folate, total 19.5µg

Folic acid 0µg

Folate, food 19.5µg

Folate, DFE 19.5µg

Choline, total 45mg

Vitamin B-120 µg

Vitamin B-12, added 0µg

Vitamin A, RAE 1.5µg

Retinol 0µg

Carotene, beta 18µg

Carotene, alpha 0µg

Cryptoxanthin, beta 0µg

Lycopene 0µg

Lutein + zeaxanthin 0µg

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 0.285mg

Vitamin E, added 0mg

Vitamin D (D2 + D3) 0µg

Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.15µg

Fatty acids, total saturated 0g 4:00g 6:00g 8:00g 10:00g 12:00g 14:00g 16:00g 18:00g

Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 0.006g 16:10g 18:10.006g 20:10g 22:10g

Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.002g 18:20.002g 18:30g 18:40g 20:40g 20:5 n-3 (EPA)0g 22:5 n-3 (DPA) 0g 22:6

n-3 (DHA) 0g

Cholesterol 0mg

Alcohol, ethyl 0g

Caffeine 0mg

Theobromine 0mg

Bibliography:

Samal L, Chaturvedi VB, Saikumar G, Somvanshi R, Pattanaik AK. Prebiotic potential of Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) in Wistar rats: effects of levels of supplementation on hindgut fermentation, intestinal morphology, blood metabolites and immune response. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2015;95(8):1689-1696. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6873

Samal L, Chaturvedi VB, Saikumar G, Somvanshi R, Pattanaik AK. Prebiotic potential of Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) in Wistar rats: effects of levels of supplementation on hindgut fermentation, intestinal morphology, blood metabolites and immune response. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2015;95(8):1689-1696. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6873

Sasaki H, Lyu Y, Nakayama Y, et al. Combinatorial Effects of Soluble, Insoluble, and Organic Extracts from Jerusalem Artichokes on Gut Microbiota in Mice. Microorganisms (Basel). 2020;8(6):954. doi:10.3390/microorganisms8060954

FoodData Central Search Results. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html

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