Sensus promotes low GI inulin, oligofructose

10 Sep 2015

Low glycaemic response is emerging as a promising, new, global indicator for developing healthier food products and encouraging healthier eating habits, according to Sensus. In extensive research, the company, a supplier of inulin – a natural, prebiotic, soluble dietary fibre, food ingredient – says it found a reduced glycaemic response associated with its products, with […]

Sensus promotes low GI inulin, oligofructose

pf-low-giLow glycaemic response is emerging as a promising, new, global indicator for developing healthier food products and encouraging healthier eating habits, according to Sensus. In extensive research, the company, a supplier of inulin – a natural, prebiotic, soluble dietary fibre, food ingredient – says it found a reduced glycaemic response associated with its products, with the health benefits of this verified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Excessive sugar intake has been linked with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, increased ageing, cardiovascular disease, and even certain forms of cancer, Sensus notes. With alarming rises in the global prevalence of obesity and diabetes in particular, dietary sugar reduction has emerged as a key issue amongst health professionals, consumers, the media and food manufacturers. Within the last few years, attention has been focused on the body’s reaction to the sugar we ingest – the glycaemic response. Many consumers already understand that a low glycaemic response is beneficial to health.

Glycaemic response refers to the changes in blood glucose level, which occur as a consequence of consuming a food, Sensus explains. It is a feedback system that maintains a constant blood glucose level that is regulated by the hormone, insulin, from the pancreas, and the muscles that utilize glucose from the blood. Not all foods trigger the same glycaemic response in terms of level and duration of the blood glucose peak that follows their ingestion. The specific glycaemic response of different foods is measured through glycaemic index (GI) or glycaemic load (the total glycaemic response of a food or meal). These measurements can be compared for different foods to assess their effect on blood glucose. Low glycaemic response foods lead to a lower and slower increase in blood glucose levels.

Inulin and oligofructose are high-fibre carbohydrates that are not broken down or digested into simple sugars by the upper digestive tract, but are fermented by gut microbiota in the intestinal tract. As a result, they do not affect blood glucose level and trigger a minimal glycaemic response. While glucose has a GI of 1003, and sucrose, a somewhat lower GI of 683, both pure inulin and oligofructose have a GI of almost 0.

One particular challenge in dietary sugar reduction in food products is that people generally enjoy sweet taste, especially children, Sensus believes. Artificial sweeteners increase sweetness, but due to taste issues and recent concerns about the long term effects of certain products, consumers prefer natural alternatives to conventional sugar. Inulin or oligofructose is found in a wide variety of plants. Sensus’s inulin and oligofructose products are sourced from natural chicory roots and are naturally-sourced, sweet fibres that it says have an excellent effect on glycaemic response. They can help to reduce the amount of processed sugar (and fat) needed within food products and also enhance taste and texture.

“By incorporating inulin or oligofructose, the food industry has the opportunity to satisfy consumer needs by developing products that reduce glycaemic load with lower sugar content and reduced calories that taste as good as original foods,” said Elaine Vaughan, Chief Science Officer at Sensus.

In addition, inulin and oligofructose have other significant, scientifically-proven health benefits, Sensus claims: as high fibre carbohydrates, they can help enhance bowel health. And with low calorie content, the ingredients can support weight reduction.

Sensus’s product range includes Frutafit inulin and Frutalose oligofructose, which are both available in liquid or powder forms. Both are said to make a good sugar substitute in a wide range of food product segments, including dairy foods, bread and bakery products, confectionery and beverages. Not only do the products add sweetness, but Sensus says they function just like other sugars within the end food product: as a bulking agent and to improve mouth feel; and they can be used for crystallisation, or to extend the shelf life of the final product by decreasing water activity and reducing microbial growth.

Chicory root fibre is around 30-50% as sweet as sucrose, and, moreover, has valuable synergy with high–intensity sweeteners, according to Sensus. To compensate for any perceivable difference in taste, they can be combined with a high-intensity sweetener, such as sucralose or steviol glycosides. This combination offsets the undesirable taste effects associated with most high-intensity sweeteners.

UK ice cream manufacturer Taywell Ice Creams uses inulin as an ingredient in its new range of healthy ice cream. The ‘Sweet Rebellion’ range is free of processed sugar (and, therefore, has a low GI); gluten; artificial additives; colours and stabilisers. It is also suitable for vegetarians.

“Our aim was to change ice cream from a treat into a healthy product,” said Alistair Jessel, owner of Taywell Ice Creams. “Inulin adds sweetness and does not negatively influence taste in any recipes. In our ice creams, it enhances mouth feel and scoopability of the final product. And it has additional benefits. Our customers say that they feel more full and satisfied after eating our ice cream. Being a solid fibre, inulin does not add calories, sugar or fat to the product, or the consumer’s waistline! It is a highly beneficial ingredient for use in a ‘new world’ where obesity in a serious issue.”

Sensus claims that its product lines are recognised across the world for their functionality, ultimate proven multiple health benefits and outstanding ingredient properties.

“Healthier, tasty products with lower sugar content could contribute towards lowering the global incidence of obesity and diabetes,” said Vaughan. “Inulin and oligofructose are already incorporated into a wide variety of food products available, including selected brands of dairy foods, bread and bakery products, confectionery and beverages, but there is scope for many more.”