Oroweat Whole Grain & Oat is the first bread to incorporate Cargill’s CoroWise plant sterol-based cholesterol reducer.
Maximizing the healthfulness of baked goods continues to be an overarching goal of the commercial baking industry. It’s only logical that lowering cholesterol, specifically LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, has become a prime aim for savvy bakers.
Not everyone, however, believes that the industry has been quick enough in producing cholesterol-lowering baked goods. Cyril Kendall, one of the authors of a University of Toronto study on the effectiveness of diet in lowering cholesterol, contends that commercial bakers are still reeling from the fallout created by the low-carb trend and appear reluctant to climb aboard the low-cholesterol bandwagon.
"We eat a lot of bread," Kendall says. "Unfortunately, the form we’re eating it in is not the healthiest. We could produce healthy breads, and we have done so in the past. But for a couple of years, with the success of the Atkins diet, people were avoiding bread and a lot of effort went into low-carb breads. The baking industry was scrambling, looking for alternatives. Maybe the eye was off the ball for a little while."
Still, Kendall concedes, awareness of cholesterol-lowering foods is trending up, albeit slowly. "Fairly recently, it has become more popular," he states. FDA-approved ingredients are readily available for bakers who are willing to invest the time and money it takes to formulate bakery foods that provide long-term health benefits. Baking Management examines the array of cholesterol-lowering ingredients currently on the market, he added..
Fiber, specifically soluble fiber, has become a staple in formulations designed to lower cholesterol levels. Fiber is the material in plant foods your body cannot digest. Both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are important for health and digestion.
Soluble fiber attracts water, fats, cholesterol and cholesterol-rich bile and increases viscosity as it is digested. Preferred sources of soluble fiber include oats, beans, lentils, peas and psyllium. Soluble fiber has been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol, which is a proven deterrent to coronary heart disease (CHD).
Puratos Corp. U.S., uses soluble fiber in the form of oat bran concentrate in its Cholesterol Lowering Bread Base. According to Paul Rogmans, Puratos U.S. R&D manager for bread, the decision to formulate its popular base with beta glucan-rich oat bran was grounded in the company’s philosophy of incorporating ingredients that are readily recognizable by consumers as healthful and wholesome.
"We at Puratos have chosen the most natural way [to lower cholesterol], natural to the human diet," Rogmans says. "It is important to stick with a balanced diet and with what nature provides." Bread and bagels, he adds, are the preferred applications for the product.
In addition to its primary base, Puratos is in the process of producing customized cholesterol-lowering products, one of which is already in use at supermarket chains. The bases are formulated to deliver .75 grams of soluble fiber per serving, a criterion for FDA-approved health claims regarding heart healthy products.
Present in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals and vegetable oils, plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and have been found to reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol. The FDA has permitted the following health claim for products containing plant sterols: "Foods containing at least 0.4 grams per serving of plant sterols, eaten twice a day with meals for a total intake of at least 0.8 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
ADM utilizes plant sterols derived from soy in its CardioAid line of cholesterol-lowering additives. Plant sterols long have been FDA-designated "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) for a select group of applications. Last year, however, FDA broadly expanded the GRAS categories of ADM’s CardioAid plant sterols to include baked goods as well as a wide array of other foods.
According to Greg Dodson, business director of ADM’s natural health and nutrition division, "feedback showed that consumers were interested in getting plant sterols from a wider variety of foods and beverages, which prompted us to seek expansion of GRAS categories for CardioAid." Primary applications for CardioAid in baked goods are bread, rolls, English muffins, bagels and biscuits.
Dodson said he is confident "consumer awareness will continue to grow and lead to more products containing these ingredients."
To jump-start consumer awareness, ADM is conducting the National Health Tour, a 30-city promotional effort through which the company is "physically putting our customers’ products in the hands of target consumers." Tour stops at marathons, college sporting events and local pharmacies combine product sampling with dissemination of educational materials on nutritional issues.
CoroWise, Cargill’s naturally sourced cholesterol reducer is another plant sterol product. Recently, Cargill announced the inclusion of CoroWise in Oroweat Whole Grain & Oat Bread, the first bread to contain the product.
In addition to containing CoroWise, Oroweat Whole Grain & Oat bread is made with 100% whole grain and whole oats. The bread also is a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants, and contains no hydrogenated oil or trans fat, the company states.
RD Foods, Kenilworth, N.J., incorporates plant sterols as well as soluble fiber in its Right Direction Cookies line, a line of chocolate chip cookies shown in clinical studies to significantly decrease total cholesterol and LDL.
Consumption of soy protein is another science-backed contributor to heart health through cholesterol management. To meet FDA claim requirements, bakers must include a minimum 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving. Products also must be low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol to qualify for a heart healthy claim stating that "diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease." To implement soy into bakery food formulations, soybeans can be processed into various forms including soy flour, soy germ isoflavones, soy isolates and soy lecithin.
Known for their flavor- and appearance-improving qualities, nuts also are used in bakery foods as cholesterol-lowering ingredients. Almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts and walnuts are top science-backed contenders. In 2003, FDA approved a qualified health claim for nuts. The claim states that "scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
As the commercial baking industry strives to broaden the appeal of bakery foods for health-conscious consumers, cholesterol-reducing ingredients are poised to advance the role of baked goods beyond traditional definitions of healthfulness. Bakers now have the ability to formulate products using ingredients that actively address one of our nation’s greatest health concerns, coronary heart disease.