What are fructooliogosaccharides and how do they provide health benefits?

A new presentation today at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Expo in Chicago focused on the health benefits of short-chain fructooliogosaccharides (scFOS), which are low-calorie, non-digestible carbohydrates that can improve food taste and texture while aiding immunity, bone health and the growth and balance of important bacteria in the digestive track.

Fructooliogosaccharides are naturally found in chicory, onions, asparagus, wheat, tomatoes and other fruits, vegetables and grains. They also can be derived from cane sugar and seaweed for use as a low-calorie (1.5—2 Kcal/g) food sweetener and supplement. As scFOS provides approximately 30-to-50 percent of the sweetness of regular sugar, it can be used to enhance flavor and lower the amount of sugar in a food product.

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

Microbiotas are "friendly, beneficial" bacteria, said Kelly A. Tappenden, Ph.D., 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. Microbiotas 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, diarrhea 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 scFOS to the diet is "ideal for maintaining mineral density and (bone) strength," said Phillip Allsopp, Ph.D., research associate at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Ireland.

Most Americans, including many formula-fed infants and children, do not get enough scFOS, said Cristina Munteanu, senior technical service technologist at Ingredion, Inc.

As an additive, scFOS is a clear, stable powder suitable for pasteurization, baking and beverages, said Munteanu. It can be found in milk, yogurts and other dairy products, as well as snacks, cereal, bars and candy.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The right snack may aid satiety, weight loss

Jul 16, 2013

Healthy snacks that promote a feeling of fullness (satiety) may reduce the amount of food intake at subsequent meals and limit overall food consumption, according to a presentation today at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists ...

Magnesium may be as important to kids' bone health as calcium

May 05, 2013

Parents are advised to make sure their children drink milk and eat other calcium-rich foods to build strong bones. Soon, they also may be urged to make sure their kids eat salmon, almonds and other foods high in magnesium—another ...

Recommended for you

High-calorie and low-nutrient foods in kids' TV

5 hours ago

Fruits and vegetables are often displayed in the popular Swedish children's TV show Bolibompa, but there are also plenty of high-sugar foods. A new study from the University of Gothenburg explores how food is portrayed in ...

Chemical companies shore up supplement science

5 hours ago

As evidence mounts showing the potential health benefits of probiotics, antioxidants and other nutritional compounds, more and more people are taking supplements. And the chemical industry is getting in on the action. But ...

More Americans in their golden years are going hungry

6 hours ago

In a country as wealthy as the United States, it may come as a surprise that one in 12 seniors do not have access to adequate food due to lack of money or other financial resources. They are food insecure.

User comments