The LIGNOFOOD project aims at using lignocellulosic agricultural waste products as raw source to obtain compounds of healthy added-value: xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) and xylitol. XOS are non-digestible dietary components (oligosaccharides made up of 3-10 xylose units) that have been recently reported to stimulate growth and/or modify the metabolic activity of beneficial bacterial species in the gut and improve gut health. Xylitol is a low caloric sweetener suitable for diabetics and used as sugar substitute because of its low glycemic index.
In order to obtain the mentioned valuable ingredients, the project objectives are the following:
– The development of a technological process to obtain XOS from lignocellulosic sources, based on the use of enzyme technology.
– Finding the optimal chemical structure of XOS for the greatest prebiotic potential and impact on intestinal health (prebiotic effect on human microflora).
– Developing an enzyme-based method to obtain xylitol from by-products of the XOS production process and whole process integration.
– The development of food products enriched in XOS and/or xylitol targeting consumers concerned in preserving their well-being and heath, ensuring food safety, sensorial quality, and consumer acceptance.
Participating SMEs will benefit from the results of the proposed research in means of know-how, patenting and licensing, and commercialization of XOS and xylitol to the food industry. Consequently, they will improve their competitiveness by gaining access to the rapidly growing market of functional foods.