Production of Inulin in Chicory Roots
Chicory roots are naturally rich in inulin, a fructan sugar that some plants, mostly from the Asteracea family, accumulate as energy reserve instead of the more commonly stored starch. Inulin cannot be digested by the enzymes of the human digestive tract and is therefore a fiber rather than a major source of energy. As such, it has a positive effect on the gastrointestinal functions. Inulin also serves as a prebiotic; that is, it stimulates the growth of certain beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Inulin and its products are used as food additives. Inulin is also used for industrial purposes, mostly by breaking it down into the fructose units the polymer is composed of. This procedure is used to produce fructose syrups. As inulin is easily hydrolyzed and can then be fermented, chicory could also serve as a source of bioethanol in the future.
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