Frutafit inulin and Frutafit oligofructose may come in liquid or powder form.

Taking out sugar

While diabetics may know to reduce sugar in their diet, a study published on-line May 29 in Diabetologia examined how fiber intake may be beneficial, too. Researchers from Wageningen University in The Netherlands used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-InterAct study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. They identified 11,559 people with type 2 diabetes during 10.8 years of follow-up, and a sub-cohort of 15,258 people was selected for a case-cohort study.

The EPIC-InterAct study showed that a high intake of total fiber was associated with an 18% lower risk of incident type 2 diabetes when compared to a low intake of fiber after adjustments were made for lifestyle and dietary factors. The findings from the meta-analysis supported an inverse association between total fiber and cereal fiber intake and risk of type 2 diabetes, with a 9% lower risk for total fiber and a 25% lower risk for cereal fiber per 10 grams a day.

A white paper from Sensus talks about how inulin may be used to develop products that support healthy blood glucose levels. Since it is a carbohydrate that is not broken down or digested into simple sugars by the upper human digestive tract, inulin will not affect the blood glucose level, according to the white paper. Instead, inulin reaches the large intestinal tract and is fermented by the gut microbiota.

There are limits on how much sugar inulin may replace in a formulation.

“You probably would max out on fiber before you would use it as a total sugar reducer,” Ms. Lowry said. “You wouldn’t want to add more than 5 grams of fiber. Then you would take whatever sugar reduction comes with that.”

The sweetness level of inulin depends on its degree of polymerization (DP) and chain lengths. Inulin may have chain lengths ranging from DP 2 to DP 60. Oligofructose, a subset of inulin, may have chain lengths ranging from DP 2 to DP 10, Mr. Estal said.

“The longer the chain length, the less sweet it is, but then the shorter the chain length, the more sweet it is,” Ms. Lowry said

Sensus offers Frutafit inulin and Frutafit oligofructose as sugar replacers. The company offers a Frutalose SF 75 sweet chicory root fiber ingredient that is 75% dietary fiber and 65% as sweet as sugar. Food manufacturers also may combine inulin with high-intensity sweeteners such as sucralose or steviol glycosides to add more sweetness, according to Sensus.

Litesse polydextrose also may replace a certain amount of sugar in formulations.

“When reducing sugar, polydextrose would be used together with a low-calorie or no-calorie sweetener,” Mr. Espinoza said. “It provides the texture that is lost when sugar is
replaced by non-nutritive sweeteners. For example, in a snack cake, polydextrose could be used in the cake, filling and frosting and icing to add to the total fiber and assist in sugar/calorie reduction.”

He said replacing 30% of the sugar with Litesse in a cookie formulation may result in a calorie reduction of about 10%.

Fiber may provide other benefits as well.

Polydextrose may improve storage stability and may improve texture and taste, especially in reduced-sugar/reduced-calorie/reduced-fat bakery items, Mr. Espinoza said.

In cereal bars, oligofructose may act as a binder, a source of sweetness and a humectant, Mr. Estal said and added longer-chain inulin has been shown to help provide structure in gluten-free formulations.

When using inulin, possible declarations on a product’s ingredient list are oligofructose, inulin, fructooligosaccharides and chicory root fiber, Mr. Estal said.

“There are a lot of different ways you can label it,” Ms. Lowry said. “You can label it inulin. You can label it oligosaccharides. Depending on the type, you could label it as FOS or fructooligosaccharides. You can label it chicory root fiber, chicory root extract.”