Ingredient suppliers help bakers offer more tasty alternatives for fiber-seeking consumers.
Recent surveys by two leading research companies show that although the majority of Americans know they should eat more fiber, many tend to shun fiber-enriched foods because they think the products taste bad. Still, more than half say they are still interested in products with new fiber claims, leaving this segment of the “better-for-you” foods market wide open for producers who can offer consumers the opportunity to have their fiber-fortified cake, breads, and cookies and enjoy them, too.
Last year, Technomic research firm reported that roughly four out of five consumers said they believe that foods high in fiber are healthier. In a research study by Mintel, almost one in three respondents said they think fiber has a bad taste, but a little more than six in 10 expressed an interest in products with new fiber claims.
“Fiber isn’t a concern just for the older demographic anymore,” says Beth Peta, bakery category marketing manager for Minneapolis-based ingredient supplier, Cargill. “Younger people are looking for ways to increase their intake of dietary fiber for wellness and weight management for themselves and for their children.”
Like consumers, many bakers have had some less-than-positive experiences with fiber-enhancing ingredients in the past. Issues with heat sensitivity, viscosity and density have often caused major production problems and yielded finished products with the dry texture and cardboard flavor that made their customers forego these fiber-enriched foods. But ingredient providers say bakers can increase fiber to support health claims while maintaining the integrity of their finished products by using custom blends of fiber ingredients and tweaking their existing formulas for each application.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, each of which has its own wellness-providing functions. Both can be derived from a number of grain- and plant-based sources.
Insoluble fiber creates bulk that pushes food through the intestines and helps regulate bowel function. Some medical experts also suggest that insoluble fiber can also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Soluble fiber (beta-glucans) absorbs water to create a gel-like substance that slows down the emptying of the stomach, leaving a longer-lasting feeling of fullness that can be helpful for weight management. Medical experts suggest that soluble fiber may also help to control diabetes and reduce levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) that have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
Boosts from bran
Wheat and oat bran, both of which are derived from the outer coating of the grains, are both “excellent sources of dietary fiber,” says Darren Schubert, vice president of sales and marketing for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based ingredient provider, Grain Millers Inc. Many of the essential vitamins, minerals and other wellness-promoting nutrients in the whole grain are concentrated in the bran.
“Most wheat bran from flour mills contains between 40 to 45 percent total dietary fiber,” Schubert says. “Oat bran has 16 to 20 percent.”
Ninety percent of the fiber in wheat bran is insoluble, says a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Oat fiber is half insoluble and half soluble. Oats have the highest proportion of soluble fiber of any grain, says the American Heart Association.
Cargill’s GrainWise wheat aleurone is derived from the outermost covering of the grain.
By substituting aleurone for 20 percent of unbleached white flour or wheat flour in a formula, fiber content can be increased to levels that would allow bakeries to “make significant fiber claims on their packaging and nutrition panels,” says Jody Mattsen, Cargill’s senior food technologist- bakery. But the most important thing to white bread-loving consumers is still appearance, taste and texture.
“When used to replace a portion of white flour in bakery formulas, aleurone doesn’t have the pigment or strong flavor of whole wheat,” Mattsen says. “Bakery products retain the mild taste, soft texture, high volume and light color that appeals to consumers.”
In a study conducted by Cargill, kids gave products fortified with aleurone an eight on a nine-point scale–similar to white bread and “significantly higher” than whole wheat. More than 70 percent of moms say they believe their kids would eat it.
21st Century Grain Processing, a subsidiary of Viterra Inc., a North American customized grain-based solutions manufacturer, produces a high fiber oat bran that has 40 grams of fiber compared to 10.5 grams in whole oat flour.
“Fifteen grams of our high-fiber oat bran contains three grams of soluble fiber,” says Kelly Henderson, technical services manager for Viterra. “To get the same amount of soluble fiber from a whole oat product would require approximately 67 grams.”
Depending on the type of oat bran used, approximately four to 12 grams of oat bran are required to deliver the minimum health claim, Henderson says.
From a texture perspective, fine ground oats’ particulate size and water absorption properties can help bakers to achieve a more moist crumb in their finished products, Schubert says. When used in quantities less than 10 percent, the bran has a minimal effect on the texture of bakery products. In quantities less than five percent, it does not change the color of white bread.
But, Henderson says, “one of the key health benefits of high fiber oat bran is related to soluble fiber viscosity, which can cause challenges for product formulations.”
Most fibers absorb between 2.5 and 7.5 percent their weight in water, depending on the percent of fiber used, Schubert says. And according to Henderson, the higher the amount of fiber, the more water is needed to produce a suitable dough or batter consistency.
Baking times may need to increase, Henderson says, and the spread and rise during baking may be affected, resulting in a denser product due to the soluble fiber’s water-binding capacity. Schubert notes that the use of specific enzymes will mitigate the loss of volume that comes with the higher addition of fiber.
Henderson adds that, in some cases, adding the bran too soon or proofing too long may degrade soluble fiber and reduce viscosity, “so that the finished product does not have the intended health effects.” A decline in solubility has also been observed in foods stored frozen for extended periods of time or subjected to freeze-thaw cycling.
Cost may be a factor when deciding which fiber-boosting ingredients to use.
Soluble fibers are generally higher in cost than insoluble fibers, Schubert says. Oat fiber, which contains a minimum of 5.5 percent soluble fiber to fibers with concentrated levels of soluble fibers (up to 45 percent), is between $0.65 to $4.00 per pound. Oat fibers with total dietary fibers around 90 percent may range between $0.55 and $1.25 per pound. Insoluble fibers such as wheat bran with 40 percent total dietary fiber could range from $0.20 to $0.65 per pound.
A few years ago, Prevention magazine’s website and MSN.com Health and Fitness placed a health halo on resistant starch derived from corn, potatoes and rice, dubbing it “the new power nutrient” and “nature’s fat-burning breakthrough.” Medical studies from around the world have suggested that this type of fiber (the name comes from its resistance to digestion) may aid in weight management, controlling blood sugar, boosting immunity and reducing cancer risk.
“Our Hi-maize high amylose corn resistant starch, which is 60 percent fiber, can replace flour in bakery products without the need to adjust formulas because it doesn’t grab onto moisture and mess up the cell structure,” says Marc Green, senior manager, marketing communications for Bridgewater, New Jersey-based National Starch/Corn Products International.
The company also makes a corn dextrin, resistant starch ingredient called Nutriose (about 85 percent fiber) that has no taste of its own; mixes and blends easily; and is heat, acid, and freeze thaw stable. Green notes that Nutriose can actually have a positive effect on finished bread and pastry texture by increasing the softness of the finished products.
Other fiber sources
In addition to GrainWise, Cargill also offers two other fiber-enhancement products, Oliggo-Fiber Inulin (four types ranging from 90 percent to 98 percent total fiber), which is derived from chicory roots, and ActiStar resistant starch (85 percent total fiber), which is made from tapioca starch. In addition to promoting digestive health, medical experts suggest that inulin may also boost calcium absorption for bone strength.
“Resistant starch can be used to replace part of the flour in formulas without compromising taste or appearance,” Mattsen says. She notes that bakers may have to add some gluten to their formulas to assure that breads rise.
For a customer who asked for assistance in making a “healthier muffin,” Cargill’s bakery technology team recently developed a new formula using Oliggo-Fiber Inulin and ActiStar. The result was a muffin with five grams of fiber compared to the one gram in the customer’s usual formula, Mattsen says.
Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM)/Matsutani offers Fibersol-2, a corn-derived, digestion-resistant maltodextrin with 90 percent soluble dietary fiber.
“Fibersol-2 is neutral in color, heat and acid stable,” says Keri Ledbetter, product development scientist for ADM. “In addition to adding moisture and softness to various bakery products, it can add a sweet sugar-like taste and reduce the bitter and strong notes in whole wheat products.”
ADM/Matsutani also makes Fibersol-LQ corn syrup, with 75 percent concentrated soluble corn fiber on a dry basis, and Sweet ’n’ Neat Hon-E-Shine, which has 78 percent soluble corn fiber on a dry basis.
Ledbetter notes that “with minimal formulation and processing adjustments, Fibersol-2 can be incorporated into bakery products including yeast and chemically leavened applications.” A calculator on the products’ website (www.fibersol-2.com) can help bakers understand how to use Fibersol-2 to increase the fiber in existing formulas.
And there may be more forms of fiber boosters on the horizon. Researchers in Spain are exploring the viability of using cocoa husks as a good source of mostly soluble dietary fiber, as well as antioxidants, according to an article published last year in the international journal, LWT-Food Science and Technology. In previous testing on animals, the researchers’ findings suggested that “replacing some of the fat in muffins with soluble cocoa fiber may help improve nutritional value, texture and shelf life, while having minimal effects on taste.”