Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 315–328 | Cite as

Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health

  • M. Sabater-MolinaEmail author
  • E. Larqué
  • F. Torrella
  • S. Zamora


Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are oligosaccharides that occur naturally in plants such as onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus, banana, artichoke, among many others. They are composed of linear chains of fructose units, linked by β (2-1) bonds. The number of fructose units ranges from 2 to 60 and often terminate in a glucose unit. Dietary FOS are not hydrolyzed by small intestinal glycosidases and reach the cecum structurally unchanged. There, they are metabolized by the intestinal microflora to form short-chain carboxylic acids, L -lactate, CO2, hydrogen and other metabolites. FOS have a number of interesting properties, including a low sweetness intensity; they are also calorie free, non-cariogenic and are considered as soluble dietary fibre. Furthermore, FOS have important beneficial physiological effects such as low carcinogenicity, a prebiotic effect, improved mineral absorption and decreased levels of serum cholesterol, triacylglycerols and phospholipids. Currently FOS are increasingly included in food products and infant formulas due to their prebiotic effect stimulate the growth of nonpathogenic intestinal microflora. Their consumption increases fecal bolus and the frequency of depositions, while a dose of 4–15 g/day given to healthy subjects will reduce constipation, considered one of the growing problems of modern society, and newborns during the first months of life.

Key words

Fructooligosaccharides Prebiotic Infant formulas Human milk 


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© Universidad de Navarra 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Sabater-Molina
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. Larqué
    • 1
  • F. Torrella
    • 2
  • S. Zamora
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of MurciaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of MurciaSpain

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