Last updated: August 9, 2021

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If your stomach grumbles in the morning and going to the toilet bodes ill, psyllium seeds may help you. These small, inconspicuous and tasteless seeds are wonderful against constipation and diarrhoea.

You can simply sneak them into your muesli in the morning between sultanas, oatmeal or nuts. That way, no one will notice your little problems in the intestinal area.

In our psyllium test 2021 we compare psyllium from different manufacturers and show you what you should look for when buying the seeds. Learn which important nutrients psyllium seeds contain and how they work in your body.




Summary

  • Psyllium seeds are so rich in fibre that one tablespoon of psyllium husks is as high in fibre as 15 tablespoons of oat bran.
  • The seeds can be used in cooking and baking and offer a good gluten-free, vegan alternative as a binding agent.
  • Psyllium seeds provide relief especially for medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids or high cholesterol and can also help with weight loss.

The Best Psyllium: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying psyllium seeds

What are psyllium seeds?

Psyllium is the seed of the psyllium plant, which belongs to the plantain family. Plantago ovata, as the plant is called in Latin, is an annual flowering plant and is mainly cultivated in Pakistan and India, which is why it is often referred to as Indian psyllium. Psyllium has been considered a medicinal plant for centuries.

There are light-coloured and reddish-brown psyllium seeds. Both forms are very small, oval and almost odourless and tasteless. The psyllium seed husks are whitish-pink and consist of numerous polysaccharides.

The small seeds contain many valuable vital substances and nutrients and are therefore considered very healthy. They enrich the diet and help with irritable bowel syndrome and other complaints around the gastrointestinal tract, as well as supporting weight reduction.

Due to the extraordinary swelling capacity and the extremely good tolerance - psyllium seeds are gluten-free and particularly mild - psyllium seeds and psyllium husks can be used in many ways.

Did you know that psyllium has regulating properties on your body cells?

Psyllium seeds belong to the alkaline foods and can thus regulate the acid balance in your body. They have a positive effect on the gastrointestinal tract and can thus increase well-being.

How are psyllium seeds used and how can they be processed?

Psyllium seeds actually have no flavour of their own. Because of their neutral taste, psyllium seeds can be combined with any food. Popular preparations include stirring them into liquids, e.g. smoothies, or using them in healthy breakfasts that help you lose weight, in yoghurt or in your favourite muesli.

Müsli in Schale Nahaufnahme

You can mix your morning psyllium ration into your muesli, for example. (Photo: StockSnap / pixabay.com)

The husks of psyllium seeds are recommended as an effective remedy for intestinal diseases. In the food industry, psyllium husks are used as a binding agent for gluten-free baked goods, such as cupcakes, bread and pizza. Psyllium husks are also suitable for thickening food and wonderful as a detoxifier for the body.

Psyllium seeds have good swelling properties - they can swell up to 15 times their volume. The husks of psyllium seeds offer even better swelling properties due to their high polysaccharide content. They can even swell up to 50 times their volume.

Did you know that psyllium seeds can only develop their digestive effect when swollen?

Therefore, psyllium seeds should either be pre-swollen or taken with plenty of liquid. The laxative effect and thus the improvement of the digestion should occur after approx. 2 - 3 days if the dosage is correct.

Simply leave the psyllium seeds or psyllium husks to swell in water for a few hours. Caution: Always let psyllium seeds swell in water only, as it does not work with milk. For five grams (approx. 1 teaspoon) you need about 200 ml of water.

If you take psyllium without pre-swelling, do not forget to drink two glasses of water immediately after taking it and at least 1.5 litres throughout the day.

When consuming psyllium and psyllium husks, it is important to drink plenty of water. A lack of water can lead to flatulence and constipation.

What important nutrients do psyllium seeds contain?

The most important nutrients or ingredients of psyllium seeds are mucilage, which occurs in high concentrations - namely 20 to 30 % - and is mainly localised in the epidermis of the seed coat. The seeds also contain proteins, fatty oil and a small amount of flavonoids.

The plant fibres contained, the so-called mucilage polysaccharides, which are found in the seeds and the shell, have a mucilage-forming function. 100 grams of psyllium husks contain 72 grams of dietary fibre, whereas oatmeal, for example, only provides 5 grams of dietary fibre in the same amount. Thanks to the numerous dietary fibres, one tablespoon of psyllium husks has the same effect as 15 tablespoons of oat bran.

Tip: Fibre should only be slowly integrated into the diet. The body has to get used to the additional dietary fibres and can therefore build up the intestinal flora in a healthy way. In the beginning, the motto is: less is more.

Pure psyllium husks are very healthy. If you buy them without additives, they contain the following nutritional values:

Nutritional Value Psyllium Seeds (100g)
Calories 247 kcal
Protein 16.2g
Fat 5.0g
of which unsaturated fatty acids 2.1g
Carbohydrates 0.5g
of which sugars 0.5g
Dietary fibre 68.5g
Salt 0.13g

What effect do psyllium seeds have on the body and what health benefits do they bring?

Indian psyllium seeds have a number of health benefits and are used for a wide range of diseases and complaints. The most important areas of application are: Irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids and anal fissures, diabetes, high cholesterol, constipation or diarrhoea, as well as to help with weight loss.

In order for the seeds to work optimally, it is always necessary to adjust the dosage to the respective disease. It is best to discuss this with your doctor.

Since psyllium husks in particular consist mainly of soluble dietary fibres that have a mucus-forming function, they bind large amounts of water to themselves. In this way, they enlarge the intestinal contents, act like a lubricant in the intestines and ensure regular digestion. The seeds thus prevent constipation, flatulence and are effective against diarrhoea and other intestinal diseases.

The dietary fibres contained in the seeds increase the feeling of satiety. They increase the size of the food eaten and thus fill the stomach, which has a faster satiating effect. Blood sugar is increased only slowly and eating excessive calories is avoided. This not only facilitates weight loss and prevents obesity, but can also help diabetics.

Did you know that eating psyllium can help you lose weight?

Whole psyllium seeds without the husk are a true miracle food. With approximately 21 Kcal per 100g, they are particularly low in calories and keep you full for a long time thanks to their high fibre content. The perfect solution for a healthy and balanced diet!

Dietary fibre also has the ability to bind bile acid and stimulate its excretion. As a result, the production of new bile acid is stimulated, for which cholesterol is needed. The result is a cholesterol-lowering effect of psyllium.

How much psyllium can I take per day?

It is recommended not to exceed a maximum daily dose of 20 to 40 grams of psyllium seeds or 10 to 20 grams of psyllium husks. In addition, you should divide the recommended dosage into three individual doses and not take them less than once.

You should also make sure to take the psyllium seeds or psyllium husks with plenty of water and preferably on an empty stomach or at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before a meal.

Nahaufnahme Wasserflasche

Always remember to drink plenty of water when consuming psyllium. Otherwise they will not have the desired effect and can lead to unpleasant side effects. (Photo: Pixabay / pexels.com)

The recommended daily dose also varies according to age. An adult can take 1 to 4 teaspoons of psyllium throughout the day. Children, on the other hand, should take 0.25 to a maximum of 2 teaspoons of psyllium per day. For children, the appropriate dosage also depends on the child's body weight and size. The optimal dosage is best determined by a doctor.

Whether you prefer to use psyllium seeds or psyllium husks is up to you. The following conversion rule applies for the correct dosage: 1 teaspoon of psyllium seeds corresponds to 0.5 teaspoon of psyllium seed husks or 1 teaspoon of psyllium seed husks corresponds to 2 teaspoons of psyllium seeds.

What is the shelf life of psyllium seeds?

In contrast to other seeds and grains, psyllium seeds and psyllium husks have a relatively long shelf life and are therefore well suited as food for storage. If stored correctly, they can be kept for up to 24 months, i.e. for about 2 years.

The seeds or the husks should be stored in an airtight container in a dark and above all dry place at room temperature. For example, where you store your tins of preserves or your baking supplies.

As with chia seeds, the biggest enemy of psyllium is moisture. The best thing to do is to take the seeds out of their plastic packaging and put them in a preserving jar or jam jar. This prolongs the shelf life considerably.

How much does a packet of psyllium cost?

Of course, prices vary depending on the brand. However, you can buy a 500 gram package of psyllium seeds for about 5 to 7 euros. A 500 gram package of psyllium husks is available from about 7 to 10 euros.

Since the psyllium seeds and especially the husks increase in volume when water is added, you only need a very small amount of seeds. A pack of 500 grams will therefore last for quite a while and, calculated over the long term, the prices for the seeds are very reasonable.

Prices can vary depending on the brand. However, a particularly low price should make you wonder. Because quality has its price here too. For 500 grams of chia seeds, you have to reckon with a price between about 10 and 20 euros.

To find the best value for money, it is a good idea to research the products and prices online. There you can also read and compare opinions and reviews from consumers.

Although the prices seem high at first glance, chia seeds are actually not expensive at all. Since the superfood increases in volume when water is added, you only need a small amount of seeds at a time. A 500-gram packet will last you a long time, and in the long run, the price is also cheaper than you might think at first.

Supermarkt Außenaufnahme

Psyllium seeds can sometimes be found in well-stocked discounters. Otherwise, you can find them in almost any supermarket or health food shop. (Photo: WikiImages / pixabay.com)

Decision: What types of psyllium are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two categories of psyllium seeds

  • Psyllium
  • Psyllium husks

Both psyllium seeds and psyllium husks are characterised by their excellent swelling capacity and high nutrient content. While psyllium is the complete seed of the plant, psyllium husks only use the outer shell of the seed.

What distinguishes psyllium seeds and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Psyllium seeds are the complete seed of the plant. The seeds are very small and oval and usually have a light or red-brownish colour. They are almost tasteless and odourless, which is why they are so suitable for mixing into food.

Advantages
  • Somewhat cheaper
  • Visually more beautiful
  • Higher recommended daily intake
Disadvantages
  • Lower swelling capacity
  • Less fibre

In contrast to psyllium husks, psyllium seeds are a bit cheaper. If you let them swell in water, you get a light to reddish-brown gel-like mass that reminds you a bit of chia pudding.

Since psyllium seeds contain less fibre than the husks, more can be consumed per day. So if you particularly like psyllium, it's a good idea to go for psyllium because you can eat more of it. For everyone else, this means that you need a larger amount to achieve the same effect as with the psyllium husks.

Also due to the lower concentration of dietary fibre, the swelling capacity is lower. Psyllium seeds can "only" swell to 15 times their volume.

What distinguishes psyllium seed husks and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Psyllium seed husks only use the outer shell of the seed of the plant. The hulls are whitish-pink and consist of numerous polysaccharides.

Advantages
  • Higher swelling capacity
  • Higher concentration of dietary fibre
  • Smaller quantity is sufficient
Disadvantages
  • Somewhat more expensive
  • Not as visually appealing

This outer husk is particularly rich in dietary fibre, which means that a smaller quantity of psyllium husk is needed for the same swelling capacity. Since the yield is lower than with the whole seeds, the price is correspondingly somewhat higher. If you allow the psyllium husks to swell, a brown-beige mass develops that is not as attractive.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate psyllium seeds

Before you buy or order psyllium seeds, you should look at some factors that you can use to compare and evaluate the seeds.

In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Type of psyllium
  • Quality
  • Ingredients
  • Packaging size
  • Origin
  • Organic seal
  • Fairtrade seal

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Type of psyllium

As already described, you can buy psyllium seeds as well as psyllium husks. You have to decide for yourself which product you prefer. Depending on whether you prefer more concentrated dietary fibre or want to consume more psyllium per day, you can choose psyllium husks or psyllium seeds.

Quality

When it comes to the quality of the seeds, a low price does not mean that the psyllium seeds are not of good quality. Conversely, an expensive price does not necessarily mean that the psyllium seeds are of high quality.

If you decide to buy psyllium seeds or psyllium husks online, pay attention to the reviews of other consumers. If you buy the seeds or husks in a health food shop or organic food shop, you can get advice from the salespeople there.

Expensive does not always mean good. Compare online reviews or get advice from a professional.

Ingredients

Make sure there are no added ingredients such as sugar or colourings. These could compromise the effectiveness, preventing you from enjoying the full benefits of psyllium. And they cannot develop their full potential. Swelling properties may also be affected.

Package size

Another important aspect is the size of the package and the amount you buy in it. As with pretty much all products, the more you buy, the lower the price. So if you buy a 500 gram pack instead of a small 100 gram pack, for example, you can definitely save yourself some money.

The larger the quantity, the lower the price. Because they are easy to store, you can buy psyllium and psyllium husks in larger storage packs without hesitation.

Since psyllium seeds can be stored for one to two years without any concerns and without changing their nutritional content, taste or smell, you can opt for the larger package. Just make sure that you store the seeds in an airtight and dry place so that they will keep for as long as possible.

Organic seal

The quality of psyllium seeds is influenced by several factors. Environmental toxins and pesticides are often used in the cultivation of the seeds, which you would then ingest into your body. In the worst case, the power seed can become a secret pathogen.

A first clue to avoid this scenario is to look for the presence of an organic seal of quality. This guarantees that the seeds themselves and the plants in the surrounding area are grown without toxins, as pesticides can be transmitted by wind, for example.

Mann bearbeitet Feld

A certified organic seal guarantees that no pesticides were used to produce the product. (Photo: wuzefe / pixabay.com)

However, organic does not always mean best quality, especially if the organic label is not a certified one. Unfortunately, some suppliers have realised that money can be made with an organic label and many people are willing to pay more for the alleged organic quality. So beware of possible self-made seals that have no meaning whatsoever.

Organic quality is defined differently in many countries, which means that products sometimes have to meet different regulations depending on the country. It is best to first find out which organic logos are recognised and certified in your country.

Fairtrade seal

Many people value fair trade and fair payment for producers and suppliers. If you are one of these people, you should definitely look for the Fairtrade seal.

Fair trade is the term used to describe controlled trade in which producers are usually paid a "minimum price" for the traded products or product components, which is determined differently by the individual fair trade organisations. In addition, international environmental and social standards prescribed by the organisations are to be observed in production.

Facts worth knowing about psyllium seeds

Where does the name psyllium come from?

Psyllium seeds are called psyllium in English, which in turn comes from Latin and means "flea". If you look at the seeds from a distance, they have a certain resemblance to fleas and when the plant is ripe, the small seeds pop out of the capsule like fleas, hence the name.

Where do psyllium seeds originally come from and what are they made from?

Psyllium seeds are extracted from Plantago ovata, a plant of the plantain genus. This is an annual, herbaceous plant with a growth height of 2 to 10 cm. The linear leaves stand in a rosette and also grow to 2 to 10 cm long and 1 to 5 mm wide. They are very pointed and covered with hairs up to 5 mm long.

The inconspicuous flowers are in long, egg-shaped spikes. The capsule fruits are elliptical, 2.5 to 3 mm long and hairless. They each contain two 2 to 2.5 mm large, ovoid to oblong-round pale pink to brown seeds.

The plant is native to the desert areas of North Africa and Southwest Asia. The seeds are sold under the name Indian psyllium as food and for medicinal purposes and are mainly cultivated in India and Pakistan for this purpose.

What other psyllium products are there and how are they used?

Besides the now common whole psyllium seeds and psyllium husks, there are other products made from psyllium seeds. There are finished preparations based on the medicinal plant, such as psyllium capsules with the granulated or ground psyllium husks.

Katze und Hund kuscheln

Psyllium can also be beneficial to the health of your four-legged friend, whether cat, dog or horse. (Photo: Snapwire / pexels.com)

You can also buy already ground psyllium husks, so-called psyllium husk flour or psyllium husk powder. Of course, you can also buy a normal packet of psyllium husks and process them into flour yourself at home.

Are psyllium seeds also suitable for animals?

Yes, they are. The EU has approved psyllium husks for use in animal feed. Similar to humans, psyllium seeds also have a positive effect on the stomach and intestines of animals such as horses, cats or dogs. Pet owners especially appreciate the positive effect on digestion. Psyllium regulates both constipation and diarrhoea in animals.

Psyllium husks are also suitable for building up and strengthening the intestinal flora of dogs. In addition, the seeds and the husks increase the general well-being, promote the metabolism, have a weight-regulating effect, can alleviate allergies and ensure a shiny coat, as well as firm claws and hooves.

The psyllium products are easy to administer and have a high feed acceptance. Due to their good tolerance, they are suitable as a daily supplement for your pet.

Photo credit: João Jesus / pexels.com

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