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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1995 Nov;35(6):525-52.

On the presence of inulin and oligofructose as natural ingredients in the western diet.

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  • 1Tiense Suikerraffinaderij Services, Tienen, Belgium.


The classic definitions of inulin and oligofructose are constructively criticized. It is observed that inulin cannot unequivocally be described as a polydisperse 1-kestose-based (GFn) beta (2-->1) linear fructan chain, but that inulin always contains small amounts of Fm and branched molecules. This review article describes the presence of inulin and oligofructose in common foodstuffs. Historical data on human consumption add an extra dimension. Modern analytical techniques (HPLC, LGC, HPAEC-PAD) are used to check the variety of data mentioned in the literature throughout the past century. Methods to determine inulin and oligofructose in natural foodstuffs (cereals, fruit, and vegetables) are optimized and used to determine the loss of inulin during storage and during preparation of the food. These findings allow quantification of the amount of inulin and oligofructose in the average daily western diet. The daily per capita intake is estimated to range from 1 to 10 g, depending on geographic, demographic, and other related parameters (age, sex, season, etc.). Inulin and oligofructose are not measured by classic methods of dietary fiber analysis and consequently are often not mentioned in food tables. Their significant contribution (1 to 10 g/d/per capita) to the dietary fiber fraction (recommended at 25 g/d/per capita) is not taken into account in any nutritional recommendations. In view of this, inulin and oligofructose deserve more attention, both in food composition tables and in diet or nutrition studies.

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