In the past, formulating with oat ingredients caused many formulation challenges. Advancements in ingredient technology alleviate these issues and pave the way for more bakery foods containing oats.
The popularity of oats and oat ingredients has skyrocketed in the past year due to the growth of healthful bakery foods and the shift toward whole grains. Today's consumers are more health conscious than ever, and one way to attract these consumers is with healthful oat products.
Various types of oat ingredients exist in the baking industry, including rolled oats, oat flour, oat fiber and specialty oat ingredients such as oat bran concentrate. Oats are well known for their nutritional properties, especially their cardiovascular benefits, because oats contain betaglucans. Beta-glucans are carbohydrates produced by glucose molecules. Found naturally in some grains, betaglucans are a soluble dietary fiber and the only glucan found to be effective in preventing coronary heart disease by significantly lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
Besides cholesterol reduction, betaglucans promote energy balance and weight management by slowing digestion and insulin release. Because of these healthful benefits, bakery foods that are high in beta-glucans are eligible to be labeled with two heart health claims from the Food and Drug Administration.
Traditional oat ingredients, such as rolled oats, oat flour and oat fiber, have been difficult for bakers to use in the past. Oat ingredients are ideal for raising the fiber content of a product, one supplier says, but they are not particularly functional. "They tend to be oaty in flavor, and gritty and grainy," another supplier says. "Plus, they are full of insoluble fiber, which creates formulation challenges."
However, new options exist for bakers to incorporate specialty oat ingredients into their bakery foods. These specialty ingredients provide functional and healthful benefits for bakers.
When formulating with these specialty oat ingredients, bakers will find that they can incorporate the healthful properties of oats without the oaty flavor or grainy texture. One supplier offers an oat bran that is ideal for savory or citrus flavor systems, he says. Because this type of oat bran is bland, it will not interfere with other flavors.
The oat bran is formulated from a mechanical sheer process that removes some of the insoluble fiber from oats. This process makes the oat bran ingredient hydrophilic. As this oat bran is mixed with liquids, it consistently becomes more thick, the supplier says, allowing bakers to control the viscosity of their formulations.
Despite the fact that this oat bran is formulated from low-fat oats, it delivers a full-fat experience to consumers, the supplier says. When consumed, it provides the mouthfeel of a creamy, high-fat material, which makes the oat bran ideal for sweet good formulations, he says.
Bakers can use this oat bran to replace flour or even fat. The ingredient contains 10% beta-glucans per 7.5 gram serving. However, bakers will find it difficult to formulate bakery foods with 7.5 grams of this ingredient, the supplier says, and therefore will not achieve a health claim. In spite of this, bakers will be able to reduce fat and increase fiber in their bakery foods when using this ingredient.
Deliver health claims
For bakers looking to provide a health claim on their oat products, other suppliers offer specialty oat ingredients that contain high levels of beta-glucans. One supplier offers an oat bran concentrate that contains natural soluble and insoluble fiber. This oat ingredient is rich in protein and gives 20% beta-glucans at low inclusion rates, the supplier says.
Ideal for bakery foods and nutritionalbars, this ingredient retains moisture and reduces starch retrogradation. It also reduces the amount of stabilizers in dry blends, the supplier says. When formulating with this ingredient, bakers should take into consideration how the soluble and insoluble fiber in this ingredient affects bakery foods. Betaglucans are viscous, and bakers must compensate for that.
Bakers can eliminate the gritty texture of oats with another specialty oat ingredient. One supplier offers an oat bran that is made from oat fiber. The oat fiber is finely milled and then undergoes an air plastification process to remove the starch. Once the starch is removed, the oat bran is created. Because it is finely ground, it promotes a smooth mouth feel.
What makes this product unique, the supplier says, is starch removal. Some oat brans may contain as much as 50% starch, but this oat bran provides 20% starch. While lowering the starch content, the soluble and insoluble fiber content is raised. This oat bran provides as much as 22% betaglucans and as much as 44% total dietary fiber.
This ingredient is ideal in bagels, muffins, scones, breakfast bars, snack foods, waffles, pancake mixes and cereals. This oat bran requires more moisture in formulations because of the decreased starch content and increased fiber content. The supplier says the ingredient is substituted for whole grain flour between 5% and 10% to achieve a health claim.
It is easier than ever for bakers to incorporate oats and oat ingredients into their bakery foods. By formulating with oat products, bakers will give consumers healthful benefits such as cholesterol reduction, energy balance and weight management.