By Kristof Werbrouck
Chicory inulin, oligofructose or fructans are soluble fibres extracted from the chicory root. During the 20 years of its existance as a commercial dietary fibre source, inulin has made remarkable moves.
A stroll down Memory Lane
The Eighties (1986 – 1991) In its early days, inulin was just an interesting fibre which was processed to chicory fructose. Since 1982 Cosucra produced fructose to meet the demand for this interesting alternative to beet sugar. Soon, it was clear that the native fibre from chicory had a huge health potential.
The Ninetees (1991 – 1997) When prebiotics were first defined in 1995, it became clear that the basic value of inulin lied in its potential to promote gut health. Soon other properties were discovered related to gut health such as immunity, cholesterol maintenance and calcium absorption. At the same time products like Yakult and Actimel made it clear that the world was craving for gut health improving food.
The new Millenium (1998 – 2005) With sound references in the top of the dairy food industry, inulin slowly but steadily found its way to the healthy food industry : a mixture of “low & light”, “food with a plus”, “functional food” and “dietetic food” such as slimming products and sport food. Its easiness of incorporation, neutral colour and
flavour made the fibre ideal for boosting the nutritional profile and fibre content of food, without comprimising on taste or texture, while decreasing the calorie content. At the same time, the scientific support increased for the health promoting properties of inulin.
The next challenge
Amoungst dozens of fibres available in the market, inulin has gained its place as the most used soluble fibre globally and as a major gut health promoting ingredient.
With the gut health market only expanding recently to bakery, cereals and beverages, inulin has entered a whole new, broad food market .
Remember the times when spreads contained 80% fat, or chewing gum actually contained sugar ? Nutrition and health is everywhere today and every food company is aware that food can actively change and improve our way of living.
With the unfortunate rise of obesity and overweight, it becomes clear that we are tempted too much to consume “empty food”, which is full of sugar and fat. We can’t help that they taste good and that we crave for a snack as a main course or in between meals. Our active lifestyle is forcing us to reduce the time to cook or even to be at home to eat, and we grab what’s available.
The battle for health
This is where the battle begins, the battle to keep our weight stable. Eating out, snacking, having that great chocolate or soft drink is constantly seducing us. That’s why the real challenge of food manufacturers today is to develop food that is great tasting with an acceptable nutritional profile.
There is an easy way to do, as the main problems can be reduced to four :
* We don’t consume enough fibre as we don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits
* Our consumption of fat and especially saturated fats is too high
* We consume too many simple sugars and too few complex sugars
* We are craving for food in between meals
Inulin can replacesugars and fat and correct the texture profile of the food, while providing an excellent source of fibre. With over 250 recipe models, Cosucra is able to provide application advice to merely all food products. But there’s more. A combination of inulin (Fibruline) with pea protein (Pisane) or the use of one of these ingredients can increase the effect of satiety significantly. This is the way we can overcome the craving for food in between meals, snacking in a healthy way. Inulin (Fibruline) also has gut health stimulating properties, resulting in an improved digestive system, a better immunity and a general feeling of well-being.
By Kristof Werbrouck