This article reviews the varied sources of oligosaccharides available in nature as silent health promoting, integral ingredients of plants as well as animal products like honey and milk. The article focuses on exotic and unfamiliar oligosaccharides like Galactooligosaccharides, Lactulose derived Galactooligosaccharides, Xylooligosaccharides, Arabinooligosaccharides and algae derived Marine oligosaccharides along with the most acknowledged prebiotic fructooligosaccharides. The oligosaccharides are named as on the grounds of the monomeric units forming oligomers with functional properties. The chemical structures, natural sources, microbial enzyme mediated synthesis and physiological effects are discussed. An elaborate account of the different types of oligosaccharides with special reference to fructooligosaccharides are presented. Finally, the profound health benefits of oligosaccharides are rigourously discussed limelighting its positive physiological sequel.
Keywords: Functional food and applications; Oligosaccharides; Prebiotics.