Dietary fructans and serum triacylglycerols: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

J Nutr. 2007 Nov;137(11 Suppl):2552S-2556S. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.11.2552S.


Convincing evidence indicates that the intake of inulin-type fructans, inulin and oligofructose, has beneficial effects on blood lipid changes in animals, although data in humans have been considered contradictory. We conducted a meta-analysis of available literature to quantify the effects in humans of dietary inulin-type fructans on serum triacylglycerols. Fifteen eligible randomized, controlled trials published from 1995 to 2005, for a total of 16 comparisons, were identified from the PubMed (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD) and SCOPUS (Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, NL) databases. Standardized mean effect sizes were calculated for net changes in serum triacylglycerol concentrations using random-effect model. The intake of inulin-type fructans was associated with significant decreases in serum triacylglycerols by 0.17 mmol/L (95%CI -0.33, -0.01; Z = 2.12, P = 0.04) or 7.5%. Given the limited number of studies, no specific effects for gender, amount fed, duration of the study, background diet, overweight, hyperlipidemia, or diabetes were further formally investigated, but, from the test for heterogeneity [chi(2) = 13.34, df = 15, (P = 0.55), I(2) = 0%], it appears that the effect of inulin-type fructans on circulating triacylglycerols is consistent across conditions. In conclusion, dietary inulin-type fructans significantly reduced serum triacylglycerols. The mechanisms, possibly related to colonic fermentation and/or incretin release from the distal gut, warrant further studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Fructans / administration & dosage
  • Fructans / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Inulin / administration & dosage
  • Inulin / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Fructans
  • Triglycerides
  • Inulin