Cutting edge research published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that inulin and oligofructose have important heart health properties.
The study, in mice with a predisposition to heart disease, showed that diets supplemented with Beneo™Synergy1 or Beneo™HP inhibited the build-up of fatty deposits in the animals’ arteries. The development of these fatty plaques, called atherosclerosis, is a key stage in the development of cardiovascular disease. Dietary factors that prevent atherosclerosis have a vital role to play in reducing heart disease rates.
Inulin and oligofructose are well-known functional ingredients that deliver proven benefits for gut health and immune function due to their impact on our natural ‘friendly’ bacteria.
In this new study, French researchers incorporated three ORAFTI prebiotic ingredients into test diets fed to mice. The ingredients were 10% long-chain inulin (Beneo™HP), oligofructose (Beneo™P95), or oligofructose-enriched inulin (Beneo™Synergy1). The control diet was supplemented with sucrose. The mice were specially selected because of their genetic tendency to develop atherosclerosis.
After 16 weeks, their arteries were tested for degree of atherosclerosis. The scientists found that the mice displayed the least plaques in their arteries when they had been fed either Beneo™Synergy1 or Beneo™HP. Diets supplemented with Synergy1 reduced plaque formation by more than a third, while diets supplemented with Beneo™HP reduced it by a fifth.
In addition, all of the prebiotic diets lowered blood levels of harmful cholesterol and triglycerides. This may explain why Beneo™Synergy1 and Beneo™HP had such a beneficial impact on atherosclerosis, since high cholesterol levels are known to promote plaque formation. The scientists conducting the study concluded that inulin and oligofructose reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Future heart health products
Coronary heart disease is still the leading cause of death in Europe and North America. While death rates are declining at present due to action on smoking and improved medical care, this trend may not last. The rising tide of obesity brings with it new risk factors, including type 2 diabetes ,high blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels ,,which are key factors in the etiology of atherosclerosis. With millions of people at risk, interest in heart health products is definitely growing.
Traditionally, doctors have encouraged patients to eat five portions of fruits and vegetables daily, plus oily fish at least once a week to keep heart disease at bay. It is also important to eat less saturated fat because it boosts blood cholesterol levels. It has been predicted that 80% of premature deaths from heart disease could be prevented if people made improvements to their diets.
However, such dietary advice is not followed by most adults in Western countries. Intakes of fruits and vegetables remain low, at two portions a day, while oily fish is only eaten by a third of consumers. Intakes of saturated fat are 20% higher than recommended levels. Functional food products, such as those containing inulin and oligofructose, could make an important contribution to the healthiness of consumers’ diets.
Beneo™ inulin and oligofructose are already being used in a growing number of successful food and beverage products. Dr. Anne Franck, ORAFTI's Executive Vice President of Science and Technology, comments: “This exciting new study on atherosclerosis suggests that the proven benefits delivered by inulin and oligofructose extend to heart health. While further research is needed, these results support evidence from clinical trials that inulin and oligofructose can modulate cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood.”
· Worldwide, 3.8 million men and 3.4 million women die each year from coronary heart disease.
· Expenditure on medicines to treat cardiovascular disease accounts for more than 10% of the total drug budgets of Western countries, according to the WHO.
· Functional ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, oats and soy already have approved heart health claims.
· Inulin and oligofructose can also be used to replace fat and simple sugars in food products, potentially enhancing the heart health benefits.
About ORAFTI Group
ORAFTI Group is a subsidiary of the Belgian agro-food group Raffinerie Tirlemontoise/Tiense Suikerraffinaderij, and is part of the ORAFTI/PALATINIT ingredients unit of the Südzucker Group. ORAFTI Group produces Beneo™ inulin and oligofructose from chicory roots for human and animal nutrition. ORAFTI Group's head office is in Tienen, Belgium and the company operates in more than 75 countries, with production units in Oreye (Belgium), Pemuco (Chile), Wijchen (The Netherlands) and Wijgmaal (Belgium). The ORAFTI Group also includes REMY INDUSTRIES, world leading producer of rice-based ingredients.
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