Skip to main content


Log in

Replacement of glycaemic carbohydrates by inulin-type fructans from chicory (oligofructose, inulin) reduces the postprandial blood glucose and insulin response to foods: report of two double-blind, randomized, controlled trials

  • Original Contribution
  • Published:
European Journal of Nutrition Aims and scope Submit manuscript



Inulin-type fructans are recognized as prebiotic dietary fibres and classified as non-digestible carbohydrates that do not contribute to glycaemia. The aim of the present studies was to investigate the glycaemic response (GR) and insulinaemic response (IR) to foods in which sucrose was partially replaced by inulin or oligofructose from chicory.


In a double-blind, randomized, controlled cross-over design, 40–42 healthy adults consumed a yogurt drink containing oligofructose or fruit jelly containing inulin and the respective full-sugar variants. Capillary blood glucose and insulin were measured in fasted participants and at 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 min after starting to drink/eat. For each test food, the incremental area under the curve (iAUC) for glucose and insulin was calculated and the GR and IR determined.


Consumption of a yogurt drink with oligofructose which was 20% reduced in sugars significantly lowered the glycaemic response compared to the full-sugar reference (iAUC120min 31.9 and 37.3 mmol/L/min, respectively; p < 0.05). A fruit jelly made with inulin and containing 30% less sugars than the full-sugar variant likewise resulted in a significantly reduced blood glucose response (iAUC120min 53.7 and 63.7 mmol/L/min, respectively; p < 0.05). In both studies, the postprandial insulin response was lowered in parallel (p < 0.05). The reduction of postprandial glycaemia was positively correlated to the proportion of sugars replaced by inulin-type fructans (p < 0.001).


In conclusion, the studies confirmed that substitution of glycaemic sugars by inulin or oligofructose from chicory may be an effective strategy to reduce the postprandial blood glucose response to foods.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Blaak EE, Antoine JM, Benton D et al (2012) Impact of postprandial glycaemia on health and prevention of disease. Obes Rev 13(10):923–984

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Ludwig D (2002) The glycaemic index: physiological mechanisms relating to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. JAMA 287(18):2414–2423

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Cavalot F, Petrelli A, Traversa M et al (2006) Postprandial blood glucose is a stronger predictor of cardiovascular events than fasting blood glucose in type 2 diabetes mellitus, especially in women: lessons from the San Luigi Gonzaga Diabetes Study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 91(3):813–819

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Rendell MS, Jovanovic L (2006) Targeting postprandial hyperglycemia. Metab Clin Exp 55(9):1263–1281

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Woerle HJ, Neumann C, Zschau S et al (2007) Impact of fasting and postprandial glycemia on overall glycemic control in type 2 diabetes: importance of postprandial glycemia to achieve target HbA1c levels. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 77(2):280–285

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Roberfroid M, Slavin J (2000) Nondigestible oligosaccharides. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 40(6):461–480

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Ellegård L, Andersson H, Bosaeus I (1997) Inulin and oligofructose do not influence the absorption of cholesterol, or the excretion of cholesterol, Ca, Mg, Zn, Fe, or bile acids but increases energy excretion in ileostomy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 51(1):1–5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Schaafsma G, Slavin L (2015) Significance of inulin fructans in the human diet. Comp Rev Food Sci Food Safety 14(1):37–47

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Franck A (2002) Technological functionality of inulin and oligofructose. Br J Nutr 87(Suppl 2):S287–S291

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Meyer D (2007) Dietary fibre: components and functions: inulin for product development of low GI products to support weight management. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Roosendaal

    Google Scholar 

  11. Grysman A, Carlson T, Wolever T (2008) Effects of sucromalt on postprandial responses in human subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 62(12):1364–1371

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Tarini J, Wolever T (2010) The fermentable fibre inulin increases postprandial serum short-chain fatty acids and reduced free-fatty acids and ghrelin in healthy subjects. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 35(1):9–16

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. EFSA NDA Panel (2014) Scientific opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to non-digestible carbohydrates and a reduction of post-prandial glycaemic responses pursuant to Article 13(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA J 12(1):3513

    Google Scholar 

  14. European Commission–Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/854 authorising certain health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health and amending Regulation (EU) No 432/2012

  15. ISO food products–determination of the glycaemic index (GI) and recommendation for food classification (26642:2010)

  16. EFSA NDA Panel (2012) Guidance on the scientific requirements for health claims related to appetite ratings, weight management, and blood glucose concentrations. EFSA J 10(3):2604

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hätönen KA, Simila E, Virtamo JR et al (2006) Methodologic considerations in the measurement of glycemic index: glycemic response to rye bread, oatmeal porridge, and mashed potatoe. Am J Clin Nutr 84(5):1055–1061

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Siahanidou T, Margeli A, Kappis A et al (2011) Circluating vasfatin levels in healthy preterm infants are independently associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Metabolism 60(3):389–393

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Atkinson F, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller J (2008) International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values. Diabetes Care 31(12):2281–2283

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Brynes AE, Edwards CM, Ghatei MA et al (2003) A randomised four-intervention crossover study investigating the effect of carbohydrates on daytime profiles of insulin, glucose, non-esterified fatty acids and triacylglycerols in middle-aged men. Br J Nutr 89(2):207–218

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Wolever TM, Jenkins DJ, Vuksan V et al (1992) Beneficial effect of a low glycaemic index diet in type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med 9(5):451–458

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Venn B, Green T (2007) Glycemic index and glycemic load: measurement issues and their effect on diet-disease relationships. Eur J Clin Nutr 61 (Suppl 1):S122–S131

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Aziz A, Dumais L, Barber J (2013) Health Canada’s evaluation of the use of glycemic index claims on food labels. Am J Clin Nutr 98(2):269–274

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. European Commission–Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods

  25. Kellow N, Coughlan M, Reid C (2014) Metabolic benefits of dietary prebiotics in human subjects: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr 111(7):1147–1161

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Dehghan P, Pourghassem Gargari B, Asghari Jafar-abadi M (2014) Oligofructose-enriched inulin improves some inflammatory markers and metabolic endotoxemia in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Nutrition 30(4):418–423

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Dehghan P, Pourghassem Gargari B, Asghari Jafar-abadi M et al (2014) Inulin controls inflammation and metabolic endotoxemia in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr 65(1):117–123

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Jones JM (2014) CODEX-aligned dietary fiber definitions help to bridge the ‘fiber gap’. Nutr J 13:34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Clemens R, Kranz S, Mobley AR et al (2012) Filling America’s fiber intake gap: summary of a roundtable to probe realistic solutions with a focus on grain-based foods. J Nutr 142(7):1390S–1401S

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Deehan EC, Walter J (2016) The fiber gap and the disappearing gut microbiome: implications for human nutrition. Trends Endocrinol Metab 27(5):239–242

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank all participants for their time and effort. Furthermore, we would like to thank the product development department of CRDS Südzucker for the development and production of test samples (yogurt drinks, fruit jellies).

Author contribution statement

All authors were involved in the development of the study protocol. H. Lightowler and S. Thondre were responsible for data collection, data analysis, and interpretation of the data. A Holz and S Theis wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. All the authors read, commented upon, and made a significant contribution to the submitted manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Helen Lightowler.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Both studies were funded by BENEO GmbH (a member of the Südzucker Group), Cosucra-Groupe Warcoing S.A. and Sensus B.V. The funding companies reserve the exclusive right to use the results and data for regulatory proceedings and health claim requests. The yogurt drinks and fruit jellies were specially developed for this study and produced by BENEO/CRDS Südzucker. A. Holz and S. Theis are employees of BENEO/Südzucker Group.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lightowler, H., Thondre, S., Holz, A. et al. Replacement of glycaemic carbohydrates by inulin-type fructans from chicory (oligofructose, inulin) reduces the postprandial blood glucose and insulin response to foods: report of two double-blind, randomized, controlled trials. Eur J Nutr 57, 1259–1268 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: