Health benefits of fructooliogosaccharides

Wednesday, 17 July, 2013

Short-chain fructooliogosaccharides (scFOS) are low-kilojoule, non-digestible carbohydrates that are claimed can improve food taste and texture while aiding immunity, bone health and the growth and balance of bacteria in the digestive tract.

Naturally found in chicory, onions, asparagus, wheat, tomatoes and other fruits, vegetables and grains, fructooliogosaccharides can also be derived from cane sugar and seaweed for use as a low-energy (6-8 kJ/g) food sweetener and supplement. As scFOSs provide approximately 30-50% of the sweetness of regular sugar, they can be used to enhance flavour and lower the amount of sugar in a food product.

In addition, scFOSs are considered prebiotics. After they are consumed, fructooliogosaccharides move to the large intestine to stimulate the production of microbiota in the colon and gastrointestinal tract.

In a presentation at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting & Expo in Chicago, Kelly A Tappenden, PhD, Kraft Foods human nutrition endowed professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition explained that microbiotas are “friendly, beneficial” bacteria. They produce essential nutrients such as short-chain fatty acids; control epithelial cell growth (the cells that line body cavities); prevent overgrowth of infectious organisms; boost intestinal immunity; and prevent inflammation, diarrhoea and other intestinal conditions. This “essential ecosystem” provides an important “balance between health and disease” in the body.

Fructooliogosaccharides also increase calcium absorption in the body, an important consideration for pre- and post-menopausal women, ages 45 and older, who are losing critical bone mass that increases their risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.

The regular addition of scFOSs to the diet is “ideal for maintaining mineral density and (bone) strength”, said Phillip Allsopp, PhD, research associate at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Ireland.

As an additive, scFOSs are a clear, stable powder suitable for pasteurisation, baking and beverages, said Munteanu. They can be found in milk, yoghurts and other dairy products, as well as snacks, cereal, bars and confectionery.

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