Home Ingredient Why Taking a Long-Term Approach to Health Starts with Prebiotic Chicory Root Fibres

Why Taking a Long-Term Approach to Health Starts with Prebiotic Chicory Root Fibres

by Food Drinks Innovation

Christian Philippsen, MD, BENEO, Asia Pacific

In recent years, consumers have been taking a more long-term approach to their health, especially when it comes to their food choices. According to a new global consumer survey by One Inch Whale on behalf of BENEO, 67 percent, or almost 7 in 10 consumers believe that healthy foods give them control over their future health. In some countries, such as Indonesia, this percentage was seen to be much higher, around 85 percent. 1

But despite what many believe, healthy eating doesn’t only equate to consuming fruits and veggies. Consumers can also include other healthy dietary choices to achieve their long-term health goals. To do this, they can look towards prebiotics — the ingredient that nourishes our beneficial gut microbiota, which is important for overall health and wellbeing.

According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), a prebiotic is “a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.” There are only very few prebiotics which are scientifically and clinically proven to be classified in accordance with ISAPP’s definition. BENEO’s chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose, belong to this exclusive group of proven prebiotics. In fact, a recently published systematic literature review with meta-analyses explored the effects of inulin-type fructans derived from chicory root on 50 human intervention studies found that chicory root fibre intake (starting at 3g/day) promotes significant growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut microbiome in all age groups and improves bowel function parameters. Also, chicory root fibres contribute to a low glycaemic diet by replacing available carbohydrates and enriching the food with a dietary fibre. Thus, they support effective blood sugar management.i It is becoming obvious that managing a person’s blood glucose levels is a key way to help promote long-term health as lower blood sugar levels have been shown to help strengthen immunity.ii

Unveiling the Technical Advantages of Prebiotic Chicory Root Fibres
In addition to being good for you, chicory root fibres hold a wide range of technical benefits for food manufacturers to leverage. For one, they are extracted from the chicory root via hot water and thus do not involve any chemical modification or GMO plants — making it attractive on product labels for their natural plant-based origin and nutrient content which manufacturers can use to their benefit.

They are also soluble dietary fibres that can be easily added to recipe formulations to increase the fibre content of products without significant changes to the production process. Take classic white bread, for instance, where the high degree of grinding usually ensures that the healthiest ingredients are omitted in the end product. However, adding Orafti® Inulin into the dough changes that. Unlike other fibres, Orafti® Inulin is not visible, and the bread’s light colour and familiar taste remain unchanged. This enables food producers to label their products as “high in fibre” all while keeping the taste and texture of fluffy, white bread.

Apart from increasing the fibre content, chicory root fibres also allow for the reduction of sugar and fat in food formulations, thereby improving its nutritional profile. For example, in one chocolate chip cookie recipe developed by BENEO technologists, Orafti® Inulin allowed for a sugar reduction of more than 30 percent. A sensory test also displayed that in terms of sweetness, taste, and texture, there were no significant differences compared to the reference product. On the other hand, Orafti® Inulin’s long chain molecular structure offers fat-mimetic texturising properties and can be used to replace part of the fat content in products such as yogurt or ice cream. Therefore, resulting fibre enrichment while at the same time, providing a creamy mouthfeel.

Thanks to the technical properties and nutritional benefits of chicory root fibres, food manufacturers can develop products without compromising on taste and texture, while supporting consumers who are seeking healthier, indulgent treats to support their eating habits in the long run. From chocolate chip cookies to classic white bread, consumers’ can have a wide array of food choices at their fingertips that allow them to have a more balanced and healthy approach to eating.

1) BENEO’s Global Consumer Survey on Prebiotics; conducted by One Inch Whale in February 2023 in France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Thailand, UK, US (N=9243)
2) Nagy DU, Sándor-Bajusz KA, Bódy B, Decsi T, Van Harsselaar J, Theis S & Lohner S (2022) Effect of chicory-derived inulin-type fructans on abundance of Bifidobacterium and on bowel function: a systematic review with meta-analyses. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Published 14 July 2022, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2022.209824610.1080/10408398.2022.2098246
i) Kellow et al (2014), Liu et al (2017) both systematic review and meta analysis, O’Connor et al (2017) literature review, Zhang et al (2020) systematic review and meta analysis
ii) Jafar et al. (2016) Am J Med Sci 351(2): 201–211. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26897277/ 10.1080/10408398.2022.2098246

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