If you ask us—and probably a whole lot of other health-conscious individuals—bread is usually one of the most challenging foods to give up when transitioning to a low-carb eating plan. From tasty sandwiches to crunchy homemade croutons and everything in between, bread is just about everywhere. And if you grew up on a traditional Western diet, chances are you're used to eating it daily.
However, bread is typically a highly processed food item, jam-packed with icky ingredients, preservatives, and additives. Not to mention the fact that bread contains a ton of refined carbs, which is obviously not ideal when you're living the low-carb lifestyle.
Thankfully, we're starting to see healthy bread options emerge, making it possible for clean eaters and keto warriors to add bread back into their diet. How is this possible, you ask? It’s all because of a little ingredient called psyllium husk.
Interested in learning more? We've got you covered. Read on as we explore psyllium husk to understand what it does in bread and all the incredible benefits that come from using it.
Psyllium Husk: Everything You Need To Know
Psyllium husk is a source of fiber that comes from the itty-bitty seeds of a shrub-like herb called Plantago ovato (the 'husk' is simply the outer casing of the seed). It grows all around the globe but is most commonly found in India, which remains the largest producer of psyllium husk today.
Given the name psyllium—which comes from Greek words for "flea"—due to its small, gel-coated seeds, the beloved herb is also known as Isabghol, derived from the Sanskrit words "asp" and "ghol," together meaning "horse flower." While the whole seed has been used in Western medicine for hundreds of years, it's only the outer shell that is used for psyllium husks. The inner core, which is rich in fats and proteins, is removed and often used as a natural additive for animal feed.
The outer coat (aka the husk), on the other hand, is ground down into what's called mucilage—a clear, colorless, gelatinous dietary fiber that swells when it comes in contact with water. The gel-like characteristics of mucilage make it a super popular addition to foods—like bread—to produce desired thickening and texture. It's also commonly used as a gentle laxative due to its strong water-absorbing and gelling capacities. You see, the soluble fibers in psyllium husk can form a viscous gel in your intestine to help push out toxins and waste while adding bulk to stool. It's extremely beneficial to combat constipation and promote regularity—hence why it's the key ingredient in Metamucil!
Are There Any Benefits To Using Psyllium Husk?
Yes, there are actually quite a few. Here are some of them:
Benefit #1: It's High in Fiber
One of the main reasons why psyllium husk is so beneficial for your health is that it's super-rich in fiber. Just one tablespoon can provide your body with around seven grams of fiber, which is 25 percent of your daily value.
Benefit #2: It May Support Digestion
Psyllium husk is considered a prebiotic, meaning it encourages "good" bacteria growth in your gut. And as you already know, it's also high in fiber, making it a helpful digestion tool.
Benefit #3: It May Boost Immunity
Because it's a prebiotic and good bacteria is essential in boosting your immunity, psyllium husk can help your body reduce inflammation, combat infection, and encourage healthy tissue and cell growth.
Benefit #4: It May Help With Weight Management
Noshing on heart-healthy fibers such as psyllium may help with weight management. How? Because fiber generally makes you feel full longer, which naturally limits the amount of food you'll consume throughout the day.
Benefit #5: It May Improve Heart Health
Lack of exercise and poor diet are two of the main reasons why heart disease has become one of the leading causes of mortality in the US. While there's no shortcut to good heart health without improving diet and exercise regimes, there's quite a bit of evidence that suggests regular taking of psyllium husk reduces risks. One of the ways it helps is by bringing down "bad" cholesterol levels, which can help to lessen the chance of artery blockages. When your arteries are clogged, it can cause a life-threatening issue such as a heart attack or stroke.
Psyllium Husk In The Kitchen
Psyllium husk is the special keto-approved ingredient essential for creating a light, spongy texture that mimics bread. And the best part? Other than being super low in carbs, it's also gluten-free. What's not to love?
Baking With Psyllium Husk
When psyllium husk is mixed with water, it develops a thick gel-like consistency that acts like a binder (or glue) in baked goods, which helps to make it less crumbly. This is exactly why psyllium has risen so much in popularity as a key ingredient in healthy low-carb baking!
As a baking ingredient, you will find psyllium husk primarily in two forms—psyllium husk powder and whole psyllium husk—which are most often packaged in air-tight containers or bags and found in health food stores, organic sections of supermarkets, and online.
Whole psyllium husk tends to be a bit coarse, so it's not ideal when baking, but some recipes do call for it. The powder, on the other hand, is made by grinding the husks down so that the gel produced is much finer. This means it has less of a grainy texture than whole psyllium husk. When following a recipe using psyllium, more often than not, it will call for the powder form to help make the dough smoother and the final product light and fluffy.
There are two ways to regularly use psyllium husk in your baking:
First, there's the psyllium "egg." Simply combine one teaspoon of psyllium husk powder with three tablespoons of water. Stir together and set aside for roughly ten minutes until your mixture is thick and gelatinous. You can use this mixture to replace eggs as a binder in baked goods in a 1:1 ratio.
Or, instead of making an "egg," you can mix the psyllium husk powder directly into your dry ingredients. Just add one teaspoon of psyllium husk powder into your dry ingredients for every egg called for in your baked goods recipe. When you add your wet ingredients, let the mixture rest and moisten for roughly ten minutes. Then, continue on with your process as usual.
When it comes to baking bread, some people find that the psyllium "egg" method is better, while others favor the latter. Both methods should yield nearly the same results, but it never hurts to do a little experimenting. Besides, psyllium husk powder has virtually zero net carbs, so you can make all the bread you'd like without worrying about, well, carbs!
A Final Word
So, what does psyllium husk do in bread, you ask?
Psyllium husk is used as a thickening and bulking agent in bread. Think of it as the glue that holds baked goods together. Without it, your low-carb loaf of bread would be extremely crumbly and essentially fall apart in your hand. Not exactly what you want when you're trying to make a sandwich or enjoy a piece of avocado toast!
Here at Uprising Food, we love bread and all the yummy meals you can make using it. But what we don't love so much? All the icky ingredients and preservatives that are commonly found in traditional bread. That's why we created our own bread made with clean ingredients like psyllium husk. Masterfully crafted by top artisan bakers, each serving of our delicious Superfood Cubes contain nine grams of fiber, six grams of protein, no added sugar, and absolutely nothing artificial. And the best part? It's only two net carbs—keto dieters, rejoice!
Fueled by super fats and made without any gluten, our Uprising Superfood Cubes are in a class all of their own. Modern science + master baking = the new gold standard in healthy food. Check us out today and experience unbelievably tasty low-carb bread made with clean ingredients tomorrow. Trust us—your tastebuds will thank us later.