The changing face of the baking industry has placed a spotlight on two significant product trends: whole grains and high fiber. While almost all bakers are jumping on the whole grain bandwagon, only a select few have launched bread products that focus on fiber.
Sara Lee Food & Beverage, Downer’s Grove, Ill., produces high-fiber breads under its Earth Grains brand. Earth Grains Extra Fiber contains 5 grams of fiber per slice, making it an "excellent" source of fiber. Two slices of the bread account for 35% of the daily value of fiber.
Although Sara Lee produces several high-fiber breads, the company understands the limitations of these products. "It’s definitely not a mainstream consumer that eats a high-fiber bread," says Matt Hall, a spokesperson for Sara Lee Food & Beverage. "High-fiber products are for consumers looking for added nutritional benefits in a product."
Hall’s comments signify the struggles and preconceived notions that many consumers still have when the word "fiber" is attached to a food product. Many negative attitudes that consumers have toward fiber derive from the once-common use of cellulose in low-calorie white breads. The thought of sawdust, as some consumers perceived it, in bakery foods was enough to scare many mainstream consumers away from high-fiber products.
This train of thought is changing, though, behind the efforts of bakers such as Sara Lee and Aunt Millie’s, Fort Wayne, Ind., which produces a line of bread products under the Fiber for Life banner. To qualify for the Fiber for Life designation, Aunt Millie’s says products must be an "excellent" source of fiber.
To boost fiber content in bakery foods, more and more bakeries, including Aunt Millie’s and Sara Lee, are turning to resistant starch. Resistant starch is defined as the starch fraction that escapes enzymatic hydrolysis in the small intestine but may be fermented in the colon. Resistant starch has four classifications:
In the baking industry, RS2 and RS4 commonly are used to boost fiber content without significantly impacting formulations. Many bakeries use RS2 derived from high-amylose corn. This product proves beneficial in white pan bread products because it is white in color, neutral in taste and its small particle size and composition give it a low water-holding capacity relative to other fibers. In bread products, RS2 derived from high-amylose corn also improves yield and exhibits excellent crumb characteristics, one manufacturer of resistant starch says.
In addition to boosting fiber, resistant starches also delivers a laundry list of additional health benefits, including promoting weight, energy and glycemic management, and maintaining digestive health.
Problem Solver Quick Tip
Resistant starch proves beneficial in white pan bread products because it is white in color, neutral in taste and its small particle size and composition give it a low water-holding capacity relative to other fibers.