Digestible and Non-digestible Polysaccharide Roles in Reformulating Foods for Health

  • John A. MonroEmail author


Structure is a fundamental factor in determining the way that digestible and non-digestible food carbohydrates (mono- and di-saccharides, oligo-saccharides and polysaccharides) influence a range of health outcomes. Much of the influence of carbohydrate structure on health is mediated by its effects on digestive processes throughout the gut. At each region within the gut a hierarchy of carbohydrate-based food structures – monosaccharide, individual polysaccharide, associated polysaccharides, cell walls, plant tissues and food particles – may constrain or enhance digestive processes. The role of carbohydrate structure in health and reformulation for health, through its effects at the gut level, is the focus of this chapter. Emphasis is placed on blood glucose loading, colonic fermentation and distal colonic bulking, because they are at the base of clusters of health outcomes arising from hyperglycaemia, dysbiosis and constipation, respectively. This chapter outlines principles governing choice of carbohydrate ingredients in reformulating for health, based on the role of food structure in function. Precise prescription of formulations is not possible because of the need for empirical testing of products due to the complexity of food component interactions, emergent properties and sensory effects in food products.


Food structure Cell walls Viscosity Digestion Colon 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research LimitedPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Riddet Institute, Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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