PHOTO COURTESY OF TREE TOP INC.
There is good news on the fiber front. From Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga.,to St. Louis-based Sara Lee Bakery Group, high-volume bakeries are peppering their product packaging with fiber claims and information on this once maligned ingredient.
Fiber is not new. In fact, it has been talked about for decades, with most of these conversations including references to tree bark and sawdust.
Not anymore. Advancements in technology have allowed bakers to enhance their products with fiber ingredients that deliver function, flavor and texture.
The increased interest in fiber-rich foods could not have come at a better time for the baking industry. Almost every category, from breads to cookies, has reported declining volumes due to fad diets that align bakery foods somewhere between cotton candy and cheeseburgers. Eating Mediterranean—once the dietary darling—was temporarily replaced with low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets. Fortunately for the baking industry, the low-carbohydrate craze is weakening as fast as it strengthened.
As consumers return to buying bakery foods, they are looking for something different than traditional white pan bread. Today, consumers want value from their bakery foods, and many bakeries are satiating this need with high-fiber products.
To incorporate fiber into bakery foods, bakers must look at the various types of fiber available, and then examine how the ingredient affects the formulation and manufacturing of the high-fiber bakery food.
Dieticians recommend that an average adult should consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily. However, many studies state that the average American eats only four grams of fiber per day. This huge disparity offers ample opportunity for bakers.
To boost the fiber content of bakery foods, bakers can choose from a wide selection of fiber-rich ingredients. These include whole wheat and grain ingredients such as millet, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and bran; and processed ingredients such as soy fiber, citrus-based fibers, inulin and resistant starches made from wheat, high-amylase corn and potatoes.
The sheer amount of fiber sources available has eased the burden for bakers who were once forced to boost fiber content with wood because no other options existed. "An easy way for bakers to get fiber into their products is to add fruit fiber, such as citrus-based fiber," one supplier of fiber ingredients says. Made from oranges, citrus-based fiber is an exceptional water binder, binding twice the amount of liquid in a formula than most other fiber sources, the fiber supplier says. The ingredient replaces flour on a 1:1 basis and can qualify for the "good source of fiber" and "excellent source of fiber" health claims, depending on the amount used. Beyond boosting fiber content, citrus-based fiber imparts an appealing taste to bakery foods and increases the volume of bread loaves. Citrus fiber also provides water management benefits in frozen pie crusts by helping regulate water migration during the freeze-thaw-bake process.
Other fruit fibers, such as apple fiber, have applications in traditional pan bread and crisp bread formulas. With a fiber content of 97%, apple fiber is used at relatively low levels in formulas for both cost savings and taste neutrality.
Besides fruit-based fibers, bakers can incorporate many crop-based varieties of fiber. Insoluble soy fiber is used in bakery food formulas to reduce calories, create low-carbohydrate formulas and boost fiber content. Insoluble soy fiber is used at levels of 1% to 10% in bread formulas. Derived from the outer hull of the soybean, soy fiber does not carry the offflavors commonly associated with soy products. The ingredient is a clean, fine white powder that is microbiologically sterile and easy to incorporate into baking formulas.
Oat fiber represents another option for fiber enrichment. New processing technologies have eliminated many of the negative attributes of oat fibers, including the undesirable "oaty" flavor that this ingredient used to contain. As a result, bakers can use oat fiber to produce high-fiber products that maximize nutritional content, enhance texture, improve dough strength, retain moisture and improve shelf life.
Resistant starches, derived from either wheat, high-amylose corn, potato or tapioca, have a variety of applications in the baking and snack industry. Besides boosting fiber content, these ingredients also possess water-holding and sensory attributes, one manufacturer of resistant starches says. Bakers can capitalize on these functional attributes by pairing them with products that possess similar ones. For example, wheat-based resistant starches are a natural fit for wheat-based bakery foods, and corn-based starches are ideal for tortillas and corn snacks. According to one resistant starch supplier, there can be a natural synergy between the resistant starch component and the remaining ingredients in the formula.
Resistant starches have very diverse applications, and can even be used in products not normally associated with high-fiber claims. "We have been successful in making delicious high-fiber brownies, cookies, waffles and pizza dough, as well as the more traditional breads and buns with our product," one supplier of resistant starches says. "The mandate is to deliver on expectations in both flavor and texture."
Although advancements in ingredient technology have produced fiber ingredients that are processing-friendly, obstacles still remain in creating highfiber bakery foods. "The more fiber you add, the greater the challenge," one bakery formulator says.
These challenges are varied and significant, but can be overcome by altering formulas and processing techniques."Adding more fiber to a bread formula-requires adding more gluten and dough strengtheners, which help the dough rise and achieve the right structure under theweight of the added fiber," Charlie Moon, Flowers Foods' director of technical services, says. "In addition, increasing the fiber load of a bread requires adding more water, which increases the moisture content of the bread. Further formula adjustments are needed to control this moisture or you will end up with a bread that will tend to mold more quickly."
Water absorption represents a significant challenge in manufacturing high-fiber breads. For example, wheat bran absorbs water slowly and may need to be soaked in warm water for 30 to 45 minutes to hydrate the grains. Without this soaking, the bran will absorb the water during baking, producing a slack dough before baking and a dry loaf after baking.
The addition of fiber also reduces the amount of available protein in the flour. To overcome this problem, bakers use vital wheat gluten at about 12% per 10% of added fiber. This addition helps strengthen the dough.
Besides mixing, overall processing time increases dramatically with the addition of high-fiber ingredients. Proofing and baking high-fiber breads generally takes longer, and bakers may have to lower their oven temperatures and slow their conveyor speeds to ensure a thorough bake.After formulating the ideal highfiber formula, it's important to understand the different processing techniques that must be used. Mixing times are generally shorter and more defined for high fiber formulas. According to Paul Stitt, founder of Natural Ovens Bakery, Manitowoc, Wis., there is a delicate balance between not enough and too much mixing, and incorrectly mixing a high-fiber product can severely damage a formula. During mixing, the fiber particles must be enveloped in the gluten, but not oversaturated. Too much gluten weakens the dough.
Manufacturing high-fiber products is challenging, but it is worth the effort if a product can attract consumers and offer value. "It's more economical in the long run to provide consumers with a healthful diet," Stitt says. "The payback is in happier customers who are willing and able to pay for a better product, lower health care-related costs, and improved health for the nation. Good bread is the most nutritious food in the grocery store."
Dietary changes heighten fiber exposure
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended an increase in fiber intake to 28 grams per 2000 calories, up from the 25 grams currently advised. If pushed through, this move will be enacted in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is expected to be published this year.
Although labeling changes pose a troublesome dilemma for food manufacturers, this amendment offers great opportunities for bakers to formulate new, fiberrich foods.
According to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR section 101.54): Foods can be labeled "good source of, contains, or provides fiber" if they contain 10% to 19% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of fiber per serving. Those that deliver 20% or more of the RDI may be labeled as "high, rich in, or an excellent source of fiber."
In order to make the claim, "Foods containing dietary fiber may decrease risk of some cancers," the product must be a good source of fiber. In order the make the claim, "Foods high in fiber may decrease risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)," the product must deliver at least 0.6 grams of soluble fiber per serving.