Resistant Starch Oligosaccharides or Just Dietary Fiber

There has been much debate of the definition of dietary fiber and in particular whether it should include carbohydrates other than nonstarch poly-saccharides. Recently, the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) proposed a new definition of dietary fiber, which would include both oligosaccharides and resistant starch as well as associated plant substances. This new definition would also require complete or partial fermentation and demonstration of physiological effects such as laxation, and reduction in blood glucose or blood cholesterol. A similar approach to include beneficial physiological effects is also proposed by the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine.

Thus, it is being increasingly recognized that oligosaccharides, resistant starch, and nonstarch polysaccharides are very similar especially in their effects on gut physiology and colonic fermentation. A comparison of their actions is summarized in Table 7. This inclusion of resistant starch and oligosaccharides in the definition of dietary fiber could have major implications for food labeling.

Table 7 The physiological effects of resistant starch, oligosaccharides, and dietary fiber

Physiological effect

Resistant starch

Oligosaccharides

Dietary fiber

Energy supply

8-13 kJg~1

8-13 kJg-1

8-13 kJg-1

Increased glucose tolerance

Some foods

No

Some NSPa

Decreased plasma cholesterol and triacylglyceride

No

Not known

Some NSP

levels

Fermentability

Complete

Complete

Variable

Production of SCFA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Increased butyrate production

High

High

Variable

CO2 and H2 production

Yes

Yes

Variable

Decreased fecal pH

Yes

Yes

Some NSP

Decreased production of deoxycholate

Yes

Yes

Some NSP

Increased colonocyte proliferation

Yes

Yes

Yes

Increased fecal bulk

At high dose

No

Variable

Faster whole gut transit time

At high dose

No

Yes

Increased bacterial nitrogen and biomass

Yes

Yes

Yes

Reduced mineral absorption in small intestine

No

No

Some NSP

Increased mineral absorption in large intestine

Yes

Yes

Some NSP

Possible prevention of colorectal cancer

Yes

Not known

Yes

aNSP, nonstarch polysaccharide.

See also: Breast Feeding. Cereal Grains. Colon:

Structure and Function. Dietary Fiber: Physiological Effects and Effects on Absorption; Potential Role in Etiology of Disease; Role in Nutritional Management of Disease. Legumes. Microbiota of the Intestine: Prebiotics.

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