FOS (fructooligosaccharides)

Fructooligosaccharides exist naturally in plants such as onions, chicory, garlic, asparagus, bananas, and artichoke. It’s a type of sugar that cannot be digested so it has no negative effect on your blood sugar levels. You can reap the potential health benefits of FOS by consuming it as prebiotic supplements in the form of powder, capsules, or pills. It is also an ingredient in yogurt, diet sodas, and nutrition bars.

Overall Health Benefits of FOS

  • Improves blood sugar levels [1-2]
  • Lowers cholesterol levels [3-5]
  • Lowers blood pressure [6]
  • Improves gastrointestinal health [7-10]
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and boosts cognitive health [11-12]
  • Combats cancer [13-16]
  • Prevents bone abnormalities [17-21]

How FOS Works

Fructooligosaccharides for constipation are widely used in the mouth. Most patients use them to avoid weight loss, traveler’s diarrhea, and to treat elevated levels of cholesterol and osteoporosis.

Proven Health Benefits of FOS

Improves Blood Sugar Levels

Studies show that FOS is beneficial in achieving normal blood sugar levels:

  1. In animal models, supplementation with FOS resulted in better blood sugar control. [1]
  2. A study showed that the consumption of FOS had favorable effects on blood sugar metabolism. [2]

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Evidence also suggests that FOS can benefit people with high cholesterol levels:

  1. A study showed that the consumption of FOS in addition to a healthy lifestyle can help lower cholesterol levels. [3]
  2. Consumption of foods rich in FOS has also been found to reduce cholesterol levels by stimulating the growth of good bacteria in the gut. [4-5]

Lowers Blood Pressure

Consuming FOS has also been found to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients:

  1. Evidence from recent research demonstrated that prebiotics like FOS are capable of treating hypertension. [6]

Improves Gastrointestinal Health

Studies show that FOS can help improve gut health through various important mechanisms:

  1. In non-diabetic patients, FOS administration reduced the levels of gastrointestinal toxins. [7]
  2. In dialysis patients, FOS administration for 30 days significantly increased the frequency of defecation and improved the feces’ appearance. [8]
  3. A study also found that FOS can help counteract the undesirable effects of antibiotics on the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. [9]
  4. In patients with irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterized by abdominal discomforts, FOS treatment significantly reduced symptoms. [10]

Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Boosts Cognitive Health

There’s also a good deal of evidence supporting FOS’s cognitive-enhancing abilities:

  1. A study showed that FOS can help prevent AD by regulating the relationship between gut ecology and brain chemistry. [11]
  2. In mice, administration with FOS for 6 weeks reversed cognitive deficiencies and brain abnormalities. [12]

Combats Cancer

The anti-cancer properties of FOS are backed by a number of scientific evidence:

  1. A study showed that regular consumption of FOS for 30 days decreased the risk of cancer by preventing cellular inflammation. [13]
  2. In rats with chemically-induced colon cancer, FOS produced toxic effects against cancer cells. [14]
  3. A study reported that FOS can help reduce colorectal cancer by altering some aspects of the colonic environment. [15]
  4. In pediatric patients with cancer, FOS supplementation provided a good nutritional support without any adverse side effects. [16]

Prevents Bone Abnormalities

FOS also has the ability to strengthen the bones and lower the risk of bone abnormalities:

  1. In rats that had surgical removal of the ovaries, administration of FOS at the human equivalent dose enhanced new bone formation. [17]
  2. In rats, FOS supplementation prevented the decrease in bone mineral density by increasing the intestinal absorption of calcium. [18]
  3. FOS administration in rats at varying doses has also been found to prevent bone breakdown. [19]
  4. FOS administration in rats also resulted in increased bone volume. [20-21]


  1. Le Bourgot C, Apper E, Blat S, Respondek F. Fructo-oligosaccharides and glucose homeostasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis in animal models. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2018;15:9. Published 2018 Jan 25. doi:10.1186/s12986-018-0245-3.
  2. Costa, Graciana & Guimarães, Sergio & Sampaio, Helena. (2012). Fructo-oligosaccharide effects on blood glucose. An overview. Acta cirúrgica brasileira / Sociedade Brasileira para Desenvolvimento Pesquisa em Cirurgia. 27. 279-82. 10.1590/S0102-86502012000300013.
  3. Costa, Graciana Teixeira, Abreu, Giselle Castro de, Guimarães, André Brito Bastos, Vasconcelos, Paulo Roberto Leitão de, & Guimarães, Sergio Botelho. (2015). Fructo-oligosaccharide effects on serum cholesterol levels. An overview. Acta Cirúrgica Brasileira, 30(5), 366-370.
  4. Sabater-Molina M, Larqué E, Torrella F, Zamora S. Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health. J Physiol Biochem. 2009 Sep;65(3):315-28. doi: 10.1007/BF03180584. PMID: 20119826.
  5. Available from
  6. Yeo SK, Ooi LG, Lim TJ, Liong MT. Antihypertensive properties of plant-based prebiotics. Int J Mol Sci. 2009;10(8):3517-3530. Published 2009 Aug 10. doi:10.3390/ijms10083517.
  7. Christiane Ishikawa Ramos, Rachel Gatti Armani, Maria Eugenia Fernandes Canziani, Maria Aparecida Dalboni, Carla Juliana Ribeiro Dolenga, Lia Sumie Nakao, Katrina Louise Campbell, Lilian Cuppari, Effect of prebiotic (fructooligosaccharide) on uremic toxins of chronic kidney disease patients: a randomized controlled trial, Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, Volume 34, Issue 11, November 2019, Pages 1876–1884,
  8. Meksawan K, Chaotrakul C, Leeaphorn N, Gonlchanvit S, Eiam-Ong S, Kanjanabuch T. Effects of Fructo-Oligosaccharide Supplementation on Constipation in Elderly Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis Patients. Perit Dial Int. 2016;36(1):60-66. doi:10.3747/pdi.2014.00015.
  9. Míguez B, Gómez B, Parajó JC, Alonso JL. Potential of Fructooligosaccharides and Xylooligosaccharides as Substrates To Counteract the Undesirable Effects of Several Antibiotics on Elder Fecal Microbiota: A First in Vitro Approach. J Agric Food Chem. 2018 Sep 12;66(36):9426-9437. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b02940. Epub 2018 Aug 30. PMID: 30113166.
  10. Olesen M, Gudmand-Hoyer E. Efficacy, safety, and tolerability of fructooligosaccharides in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Dec;72(6):1570-5. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/72.6.1570. PMID: 11101487.
  11. Chen D, Yang X, Yang J, et al. Prebiotic Effect of Fructooligosaccharides from Morinda officinalis on Alzheimer’s Disease in Rodent Models by Targeting the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017;9:403. Published 2017 Dec 8. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00403.
  12. Sun J, Liu S, Ling Z, Wang F, Ling Y, Gong T, Fang N, Ye S, Si J, Liu J. Fructooligosaccharides Ameliorating Cognitive Deficits and Neurodegeneration in APP/PS1 Transgenic Mice through Modulating Gut Microbiota. J Agric Food Chem. 2019 Mar 13;67(10):3006-3017. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b07313. Epub 2019 Feb 28. PMID: 30816709.
  13. Yan MR, Welch R, Rush EC, Xiang X, Wang X. A Sustainable Wholesome Foodstuff; Health Effects and Potential Dietotherapy Applications of Yacon. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2632. Published 2019 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu11112632.
  14. Available from
  15. Boutron-Ruault MC, Marteau P, Lavergne-Slove A, Myara A, Gerhardt MF, Franchisseur C, Bornet F; Eripolyp Study Group. Effects of a 3-mo consumption of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides on parameters of colorectal carcinogenesis in patients with or without small or large colorectal adenomas. Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(2):160-8. doi: 10.1207/s15327914nc5302_5. PMID: 16573377.
  16. Available from
  17. Porwal, Konica & Pal, Subhashis & Kulkarni, Chirag & Singh, Priya & Sharma, Shivani & Singh, Pragati & Prajapati, Gurudayal & Gayen, Jiaur & Ampapathi, Ravi & Mullick, Ashim & Chattopadhyay, Naibedya. (2020). A prebiotic, short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides promotes peak bone mass and maintains bone mass in ovariectomized rats by an osteogenic mechanism. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 129. 110448. 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110448.
  18. Ohta A. [Prevention of osteoporosis by foods and dietary supplements. The effect of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) on the calcium absorption and bone]. Clin Calcium. 2006 Oct;16(10):1639-45. Japanese. PMID: 17012821.
  19. Mathey J, Puel C, Kati-Coulibaly S, Bennetau-Pelissero C, Davicco MJ, Lebecque P, Horcajada MN, Coxam V. Fructooligosaccharides maximize bone-sparing effects of soy isoflavone-enriched diet in the ovariectomized rat. Calcif Tissue Int. 2004 Aug;75(2):169-79. doi: 10.1007/s00223-004-0128-7. Epub 2004 May 20. PMID: 15164148.
  20. Takahara S, Morohashi T, Sano T, Ohta A, Yamada S, Sasa R. Fructooligosaccharide consumption enhances femoral bone volume and mineral concentrations in rats. J Nutr. 2000 Jul;130(7):1792-5. doi: 10.1093/jn/130.7.1792. PMID: 10867052.
  21. Ohta A, Uehara M, Sakai K, Takasaki M, Adlercreutz H, Morohashi T, Ishimi Y. A combination of dietary fructooligosaccharides and isoflavone conjugates increases femoral bone mineral density and equol production in ovariectomized mice. J Nutr. 2002 Jul;132(7):2048-54. doi: 10.1093/jn/132.7.2048. PMID: 12097691.

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