Linked to numerous health benefits, dietary fiber makes a smart addition to many snack and bakery foods.
Remember the old adage, “Good things come to those who wait?” Well, as it turns out, those of us who patiently waited out the low-carb craze have been rewarded with a host of healthful, better-tasting high-fiber products.
After all, dietary fiber was one of the key replacements for carbohydrates in low-carb formulations. All it took was a little product repurposing.
“It was interesting to see some folks change their strategies with the same formulas they had — that’s what we’ve seen in some of the breads, the tortillas,” says Darren Schubert, vice president of sales and marketing for Grain Millers Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn. “So that’s taking one market trend and switching it to another without really reformulating or changing products.”
And by all indications, fiber has more staying power than the low-carb fad.
“We definitely see more interest, for several reasons,” says Allan Buck, director of research and development for Decatur, Ill.-based Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). “AACC* and NAS** definitions clarified the definition of fiber, opening the door for a variety of ingredients that help food manufacturers formulate without some of the limitations of traditional fibers such as high water absorption properties. [The] 2005 USDA food intake guidelines have stressed the need for more fiber in the diet for a number of potential health benefits.”
Fiber is a very hot topic right now, stresses Doris Dougherty, senior food scientist for Tate & Lyle Custom Ingredients, Decatur, Ill.
“It’s one way to address obesity,” she says, “and I would say obesity is probably front-of-mind when it comes to health and wellness.”
Fiber not only keeps consumers fuller longer, but it’s also linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. In addition, processors can incorporate it easily into today’s snack and bakery items.
And consumer and manufacturer awareness regarding fiber’s role in nutrition continues to grow, says Dorothy Peterson, starch development lead, North America for Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. Moreover, she says snacks and bakery items are “ideal products” in which to incorporate fiber.
Dietary fiber — loosely defined as carbohydrates that cannot be digested — can be categorized by whether it dissolves in water. Soluble fiber partially dissolves in water; insoluble fiber does not.
“The beneficial effects of fiber in the diet are the summation of the different fibers consumed on a daily basis,” Peterson says. “Both soluble and insoluble fiber should be incorporated into the diet to bring about various physiological benefits such as improvements in gastrointestinal health, improvements in glucose tolerance, cholesterol reduction and satiety to improve weight management.”
Schubert sees more of a “whole-grain balance” in fiber intake today, but also notes more interest in soluble fiber.
“Soluble fiber can be a bit pricy,” he says, “whether you go with a beta glucan or an inulin. ... There is interest in getting into soluble, heart-healthy fibers, but I think [food manufacturers] are starting off with insoluble fibers, keeping what customers know best.”
Both soluble and insoluble forms of fiber work well in specific products, says Steve Ham, director of marketing for MGP Ingredients Inc., Atchison, Kan.
“Insoluble starches include resistant starches that are easy to formulate into a wide range of bakery foods due to their positive sensory attributes and low water-holding properties,” he says. “These starches also are beneficial for gut health in producing short-chain fatty acids such as butyric acid, reported to be protective against colon cancer. Soluble fibers are convenient for boosting dietary fiber in selective products such as beverages.”
Consumer preference is for “familiar” fibers, contends Curtis Rath, director of sales for J. Rettenmaier USA, Schoolcraft, Mich. In a study commissioned by his company, consumers indicated a “high” preference for fibers from products such as oat and wheat, as opposed to resistant starches and maltodextrin, he adds.
Nevertheless, the addition of fiber — soluble or insoluble — to snack and bakery products will help consumers get closer to the American Dietetic Association’s recommended daily allowance of 20-35 g. for adults, Rath says. Children over the age of two require the number of grams reflecting their age in years plus 5 (the “age + 5” rule).
Working it in
These days, dietary fiber is popping up in numerous snack and bakery items — not just in repositioned low-carb formulations.
Key to successful fiber inclusion is an understanding of the fiber’s overall properties and how processing might need to be altered, Peterson says.
“Once a knowledge base of the available fibers is established, combinations of those fibers can be applied to produce superior quality in snack or bakery products,” she explains.
Limiting factors can include a gritty mouthfeel and the impact of higher water absorption, Rath notes. When it comes to snack and bakery items, the water the fiber absorbs might have a deleterious effect on the structure, so wheat gluten and other structure-building ingredients might be called for.
But both snack and baked goods manufacturers and consumers will be delighted to find that many of today’s high-fiber products are very pleasing to the palate. When it comes to fiber, newfangled offerings go well beyond what Grandma might call “roughage.”
Cargill’s ActiStar resistant starch helps processors add enough fiber to meet desired product claims, says Peterson, providing an “invisible, low water binding” fiber with no negative impact on processing or finished product quality. Fiber Krunch, a new Cargill offering, contain 35% fiber and can replace rice crisps in granola-based bars and trail mix clusters.
“Fiber Krunch resembles a rice crisp but has a superior crispy texture,” Peterson explains. “Fiber Krunch resists moisture absorption, increasing shelf life of bars and clusters and improving bowl life of cereal inclusions.”
Tate & Lyle’s new PROMITOR resistant starch is designed to be more process stable in extruded and sheeted snack applications and more, Dougherty says, with better thermal stability than many other such starches. It also boasts low water holding properties that are maintained throughout a heat or bake cycle.
“It can be used in fried foods such as corn chips or batters and breadings,” Dougherty says. “You use less water in the system, and there’s less transfer of water and fat, so the end product has less fat content and fewer calories.”
Also new from Tate & Lyle is the PROMITOR high-fiber soluble corn syrup, which can be used at high levels in a wide range of products, Dougherty says.
“The resistant starch provides a very low glycemic response,” she says. “When compared to maltodextrin, the soluble corn fiber [results in] a 66% less response, so it’s a good reduction in glycemic response.
“Also, we’re doing satiety studies and looking at prebiotic effects such as the types of [good] bacteria that are produced as a result of consumption of the prebiotic fibers,” Dougherty adds. “The soluble corn syrup has very good prebiotic effects. The resistant starch also has prebiotic effects, but perhaps a little less pronounced.”
Yet another addition to the resistant starch arena is FiberRite RW from MGP Ingredients. The ingredient — 75% dietary fiber — has partial fat replacement properties, Ham notes, so caloric content can be reduced in bakery products and more.
For bakers, Grain Millers introduced a natural-based stabilized bran/stabilized germ blend that’s micro-ground into a colloidal state, Schubert says. The micro-grinding eliminates the chalkiness and grittiness typically associated with whole grains.
“The baker is able to incorporate up to 20% back into the extraction flour to recreate a whole grain,” he says. “Bakers can control their water absorption; they know the flour that they’re using from the flour supplier. Now all they have to do is buy this blend and rehydrate it back into their mix to make a whole grain.”
To add considerable fiber without bulk, snack and baked goods manufacturers might want to consider Sustagrain Barley from Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Mills. More than 50% of the carbohydrates in this identity-preserved, waxy barley are present as total dietary fiber. Moreover, 40% of the fiber is the cholesterol-lowering soluble type, says the company. Available in flour, thick and quick-cooking flakes, and steel-cut and whole kernel forms, Sustagrain can be used in breads, energy bars and many other foods.
Want to work a serving of vegetables into your snack or bakery items? ADM has just the ingredient for you. The company provides edible bean powders, ground from whole, pre-cooked, minimally processed beans, says Patricia Demark, an edible bean technologist with ADM. Although the powders maintain some of their natural color and flavor, they can add value in distinguishing a product while boosting fiber content at the same time.
“Edible bean powders will replace, one-for-one, 25% to 30% of flour in most recipes, with only a slight need to adjust the water content of the dough or batter,” she says. “They also extrude well for snack applications. Edible bean powders provide nearly a one-to-one amount of protein and fiber.”
ADM also offers the Fibersol-2 digestion-resistant maltodextrin, which Buck says is a flavorless “water-soluble, not water-absorbing” ingredient that can be used alone or in conjunction with insoluble fibers in the dough matrix of crackers, extruded snacks and most bakery items to boost fiber content. It also can be added to fillings and coatings. Studies link Fibersol-2 with a reduction in triglyceride levels, a heart-health benefit, he notes.
Made from the hulls of soybeans, Fl-1 Soy Fibre from the Fibred Group of LaVale, Md., retains up to three times its weight in water, promoting softer crumbs in baked goods and enhancing freshness and shelf life. The fine, free-flowing powder has no off-flavors or odors.
Yet another excellent water binder is the HK line of wheat fiber concentrates from Cereal Ingredients Inc. of Leavenworth, Kan. Billed as a stable source of both fiber and protein, the line has a clean taste profile and increases the moistness of finished products.
For J. Rettenmaier, fiber customization is the emphasis with the opening of a new oat fiber plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“This $23 million facility is on the cutting edge of fiber technology,” Rath stresses. “This facility will be able to customize a specialized fiber for particular applications ranging from bread to sausages — at a great value.” SF&WB
*American Association of Cereal Chemists **National Academy of Sciences
Soluble vs. Insoluble
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium are some good sources of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber increases the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts and many vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.
In a recent study, German researchers found a link between high consumption of grain fiber and a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. People who consumed the most grain fiber — about 29 g. per day — were approximately 27% less likely to develop the disease.
Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007, 167: 956-965
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