If you are wondering, is psyllium husk gluten free? The answer is, yes.
While it has been used as a dietary fiber supplement for ages to improve gut health, it's uses have increased widely.
Psyllium husk powder is now used by many as a gluten free substitute for wheat flour in various cooking and baking recipes.
Psyllium husk is the outer covering of the seeds from a shrub-like plant called Plantago Ovata. In simple terms it is a seed husk.
This seed husk is predominantly cultivated on a large scale in India from where it is exported to the rest of the world. It is now also produced in Europe and Soviet Union.
It is an edible soluble fiber also referred to as a bulking fiber. Psyllium husk once ingested expands by drawing water in from the colon forming a gel like mass.
It is probiotic and is also known as ispaghula, isabgol, psyllium fiber or blonde psyllium.
Psyllium husk and powder are gluten free with a very interesting nutrition profile.
It's glycemic Index is almost zero and has no fat and protein content. It contains small amount of calcium and iron
54% of psyllium husk is soluble fiber.
It swells in water.
With it's gluten free properties and high soluble fiber contents, it's uses are diversified.
Psyllium husk is used both for commercial as well for medicinal supplement purposes.
Commercially, it is used as a thickening agent in foods like ice cream, frozen yoghurt, breakfast bars and various other cereals and foods to increase their fibre content.
At home, it is used in cooking and baking as a gluten free substitute for wheat flour.
But, it is most widely used as a dietary fiber supplement.
Since it is gluten free, scientific researchers have also found it useful in improving diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular health conditions.(2)
Though plain psyllium husk and ground psyllium powder are gluten free, you need to be watchful buying it.
When you buy psyllium for baking, make sure you carefully look at the lable and buy plain psyllium husk or powder.
Otherwise you may end up buying psyllium mixed with wheat flour. Some manufacturers add wheat flour as a binding agent.
One of the biggest challenges of gluten-free baking is to replicate the structural strength and elasticity given by the gluten in wheat and other grains.
Psyllium with it's high soluble fiber content makes a gel in water that acts as a good binding agent. The gel is of a similar capabilities as xanthan gum and guar gum which are the other popular gluten free substitutes in baking.
Interestingly scientists in Brazil tried to test a gluten free bread made from psyllium on both celiac patients and healthy volunteers.
The study was published in the American dietetic association in 2009. (3) It reveals that the texture and flavour both were acceptable by the participants of the study.
So experiment making your next bread with psyllium. You will need much less psyllium powder as compared to the wheat flour in making your gluten free bread.
Psyllium husk is a very safe dietary fibre supplement. It expands its mass in water therefore it should never be consumed without water.
Dry psyllium husk in your throat can expand with moisture and chock your throat. So ensure that you consume it with water.
When you take it in a baked condition then you don't have to worry about water.