How to Increase Inositol in Your Diet:
Inositol may sound like made-up word to those who’ve never heard of it before. When we first encountered the word, it sounded to us a bit like some mystery substance that the Avengers needed to save the world from utter destruction. Good news though, that’s not what it is. It’s actually a vitamin-like molecule that’s an important component of cell membranes and that acts as a chemical messenger in the body, relaying information about hormones such as insulin, and certain sex hormones. Increasing inositol intake has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and to help the body maintain healthy levels of androgen, testosterone, and luteinizing hormone. Because of these hormone-regulating properties, it can be very helpful in promoting ovarian function and reproductive health.1-3
So maybe now you like the sound of this formerly mysterious substance and you’d like to know how to get more of it. Inositol is found in a lot of plant foods, it can be synthesized by the body, and it can be made in a lab and taken in supplement form. Today we’ll focus on how to increase your intake of inositol by what you eat. Certain foods are very high in inositol, and others have almost none; let’s take a look at foods you should focus on if you want a lot of inositol in your diet.
Cantaloupe tops the list for fruits, with 355 mg of inositol per 100 g of fruit, or about ¼ of a medium-size melon…that’s a lot of inositol! For reference, a half cup of applesauce contains just 18 mg of inositol and two small plums contain just 12 mg.4,5 You didn’t know cantaloupe was a superfood did you? I guess every food has its superpower!
Oranges are next on the list with 307 mg of inositol per 100 g of fruit, or one medium-size orange. Other fruits that are high in inositol include grapefruits, limes, kiwis, nectarines, and mangoes.4,5 You can increase your intake of these fabulous fruits by pairing them with your sandwich at lunch or subbing fruit for processed desserts like ice cream or cookies when you want something sweet. Fruit salad anyone?
#3 Beans and Peas
Canned and dried Great Northern Beans top the list for high-inositol legumes with 440 and 327 mg of inositol respectively for a half cup serving. Other legumes are great sources as well including Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, Black-eyed Peas, and Split Peas.4,5 Try replacing some of the meat in your diet with beans and peas if you want more inositol, just be sure you have adequate iron sources in your diet if you’re replace meat with beans. Legumes like beans and peas are affordable, nutritious, and incredibly versatile. I enjoy them sprinkled on salads, in soups, in pasta dishes, and of course on taco night. They also come with the added benefit of being one the healthiest sources of protein in the world due to their protective effects on our cardiovascular systems, gut health, and environmental friendliness. Lesson here: nosh on beans!
#4 Green Beans
You thought we were done talking about beans didn’t you? Green bean varieties, such as Wax Beans, Pole Beans, and French Green Beans are all good sources of inositol and contain between 50 and 150 mg of inositol per ½ cup serving.4,5 Let’s hear it for beans…again!
#5 Whole Wheat Bread
Stone ground, whole wheat bread is a great source of inositol, with 287 mg of inositol per medium-sized slice. Other whole wheat and whole grain products are good sources as well.4,5 If you want more inositol, then I suggest you ditch the white pasta, white bread, white rice, etc. and opt for whole grain varieties. Not only are they higher in inositol, but their high fiber content will help to keep your blood sugar stable and they will keep you feeling full longer too.
And there you have it, so many delicious foods are packed with inositol and now you know what to eat to get the most of it. If you’d like a more comprehensive list of foods and their inositol content, then follow this link to the holy grail of inositol content studies by R.S. Clements Jr., and B. Darnell. The paper contains a very long, but easy-to-understand list of foods broken down by category and ranked according to their inositol content.
In parting, remember that eating healthy, whole foods, and lots of plants foods is one of the simplest, safest, and most effective things we can do to promote good health in our bodies. As with every preventative/restorative measure though, sometimes these changes alone are not enough to help our bodies function the way we want or need them to. If you are struggling with health problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider such a Naturopath, Dietitian, or Mental Health Professional to see if they can offer appropriate guidance and care. We at Wholesome Story believe that healthy communities require community effort, so we advise you to keep your healthcare community aware and involved in your journey as you pursue better health.
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- Benelli, E., Del Ghianda, S., Di Cosmo, C., & Tonacchera, M. (2016). A combined therapy with myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol improves endocrine parameters and insulin resistance in PCOS young overweight women. International Journal of Endocrinology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/3204083
- Sortino, M. A., Salomone, S., Carruba, M. O., & Drago, F. (2017). Polycystic ovary syndrome: insights into the therapeutic approach with inositols.Journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8(341), 1-13. DOI: 3389/fphar.2017.00341
- Bevilacqua A, Bizzarri M. Inositols in insulin signaling and glucose metabolism. International journal of endocrinology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6286734/. Published November 25, 2018. Accessed October 24, 2021.
- B; CRSD. Myo-inositol content of common foods: Development of a high-myo-inositol diet. The American journal of clinical nutrition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7416064/. Accessed October 24, 2021.
- Inositol Australia, Inositol Australia publishes articles as a small team. Peer reviewed journal articles are researched by our dedicated post graduate writer. These articles are then fact checked and edited by Jodie & Ant before publishing. Jodie is studyi, Australia I. What foods are high in inositol: Inositol Australia. Inositol Australia | Vitamin B8 | Myo Inositol Powder. https://inositol.com.au/pcos/foods-high-in-inositol/. Published March 6, 2021. Accessed October 24, 2021.