Foods spiked with "fructans" from the agave plant may be used in a new genre of processed foods with health benefits and as a source of nutrients that helps the body's absorption of calcium, according to Mercedes López, National Polytechnic Institute, Guanajuato, Mexico.
López said: "Fructans are considered functional food ingredients because they affect body processes in ways that result in better health and reduction in the risk of many diseases.
"Experimental studies suggest that fructans may be beneficial in diabetes, obesity, stimulating the immune system of the body, decreasing levels of disease-causing bacteria in the intestine, relieving constipation, and reducing the risk of colon cancer."
López and colleagues found mice fed agave fructans absorbed more calcium from food, excreted less calcium, and showed a 50 percent increase in levels of a protein associated with the build-up of new bone tissue.
The expert explained: "These results suggest that the supplementation of the standard diet with agave fructans prevented bone loss and improved bone formation, indicating the important role of agave fructans on the maintenance of healthy bone. They can be used in many products for children and infants to help prevent various diseases, and can even be used in ice cream as a sugar substitute."
But López added: "We still have a long way to go to determine for which health benefits agave fructans perform better than chicory fructans. However, the early results are encouraging, and we working on it."
The report was delivered at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. (ANI)