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    You Ask, I Answer: Fructooligosaccharides

    lucuma-powderI’m in need of your expertise after a trip to a health food store around my house.

    Some of the products I was looking at [stated] they were [a source of fructooligosaccharides].

    What is that, and why is that worth mentioning on the packaging?  I’m a little skeptical, but wanted to check with you first.

    — Robin Vulpfer
    (Location withheld)

    Fructooligosaccharides (hereby referred to as FOS, for my keyboard’s sake) are a type of indigestible carbohydrate.

    More specifically, they are short-chain molecules of fructose that are intrinsically found in certain fruits and vegetables.

    Their indigestible status means two things:

    1. Like all other indigestible components/ingredients, they do not contribute calories
    2. Unlike some other indigestible components/ingredients, they are prebiotic

    Prebiotic is a term that basically means “food for probiotic bacteria”.

    The better fed the healthy bacteria in our colon, the better off we are, for it is those bacteria that are implicated in immune health and improved digestive function.

    A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides a good amount of FOS.

    That said, I have seen FOS mentioned in containers of powdered mesquite, yacon (a root vegetable native to the Andes), and lucuma (a Peruvian fruit) at my local health food store.

    Its fine with me.  Those are whole plant foods (as opposed to, say, a 400-calorie cookie sweetened with FOS), and I think it’s worth mentioning the presence of FOS since not all fruits and vegetables offer it.

    I personally love mesquite, yacon, and lucuma, and always like to add a few teaspoons of each to any smoothie I make.

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