Psyllium – Seeds of the Plantain Herb

The seeds of the plantain herb called plantago ovata are known as psyllium or psyllium seed husks. The small, light to dark brown seeds are similar to fleas in appearance, which is why they are referred to as “flea seeds” in German speaking countries.  Similarly, plantago afra, which predominantly grows in Spain, is known as “flea seed plantain”. In Switzerland, the Indian psyllium (plantago ovate) is popular. This plantain herb type originates in North Africa and South West Asia – their seeds have particularly good swelling properties.

Food Facts Food Facts

Psyllium

Class

plantain

Calories

272 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

1.7g carbohydrates, 62.5g fibre, 8g fat, 17g protein per 100g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store dry and dark at 18 to 22°C room temperature

Shelf life

up to two years

Psyllium – The Popular Indian Seed

Plantago ovata, a herbaceous, annual plant, can reach a height of 2 to 10 cm. It grows from January to April and does not require particularly nutrient-rich soil as long as it has plenty of sunlight. The rosette-shaped leaves grow close to the ground and the usually white flowers form a spike at the tip of the stem. The seeds are extracted from the flowers. The main cultivation regions are India and Pakistan.

Psyllium – A Great Source of Fibre

Whole psyllium seeds as well as psyllium seed husks are a very popular dietary component. As the small seeds can absorb up to 15 times their weight in water, they are often used as a binding agent in gluten free baked goods like cake or pizza dough. The seeds themselves do not have a strong flavour, but are an excellent source of fibre and make you feel full for longer. The other nutrients in psyllium are equally impressive: almost no carbohydrates, low-fat, but comparatively lots of protein, which plays a part in supporting muscle function.

Psyllium – Psyllium Seed Bread

Due to their low carbohydrate content, psyllium seeds are ideal for low-carb diets. They can be used to bake tasty but low-calorie psyllium bread: use 4 eggs and 150 grams of low-fat quark as a base and then mix with 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon psyllium seeds or psyllium seed husks, 2 table spoons of wheat bran and 4 table spoons of oats, and then season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Add 150 grams of nuts and seeds, for example walnuts, hazelnuts, flaxseeds or sunflower seeds. Place the mixture in a greased baking pan and bake at 160°C for 45 to 60 minutes.

Psyllium – For Well-Regulated Digestion

If you frequently have digestive issues, you should add psyllium seeds to your breakfast muesli or yoghourt. The seeds absorb any liquids and form a pulp that acts as a lubricant for the digestive system. Psyllium seeds also feed the good bacteria in the bowel. Constipation and diarrhoea can both be alleviated with psyllium seeds or psyllium seed husks.

Psyllium – Things to Bear in Mind

Psyllium seeds may interfere with the effectiveness of certain medication, so they should always be consumed half an hour before or after any medicine. A daily portion of 10 to 40 grams is recommended. Make sure to drink enough liquids – about 200 millilitre per 10 grams of psyllium. Otherwise they are not fully effective and can even cause intestinal obstruction.

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