Finding fiber everywhere

by Jeff Gelski
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Judging by retail sales, consumers are looking for fiber in products, which means manufacturers are looking for ways to add fiber to their foods and beverages. An ample amount of options are available. For example, fiber sourced from beans, peas, citrus and grains were found in exposition booths at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition June 12-14 in New Orleans.

U.S. supermarket sales of products promoted for fiber content reached $4.2 billion for the 52 weeks ended May 14, 2011, which marked a 2.5% increase from $4.1 billion in the previous 52-week period, according to The Nielsen Co., New York.

Beans and peas are both sources of dietary fiber, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, which further recognized beans and peas as being sources of protein and nutrients such as potassium and folate. Recent innovation has focused on adding bean fiber to snacks.

J.R. Short, Kankakee, Ill., at the I.F.T. event showcased how it now has the ability to add chickpeas and black beans to a crisp through its proprietary micro pellet extrusion technology. A black bean crisp may deliver 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein per serving.

“The crisp segment of the snack industry is growing rapidly, and we are proud to be the world leader in the development and manufacture of the micro pellets driving growth in this brand new category,” said John Luikart, president and chief executive officer of J.R. Short.

Beans are soluble, soak up water and slow digestion, said Doug Foreman, chief executive officer of Bean Brand Foods, Austin, Texas.

“If the idea of a snack is to stave off hunger, then you want to eat as few calories as possible,” he said. “The higher in fiber it is, the less you’re going to have to eat to feel full.”

Bean Brand Foods describes its bean-based Beanitos chips as “PurposeFULL Snacking” with 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per 1-oz serving. The company in the future may develop other bean-related products, Mr. Foreman said.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., offers VegeFull edible bean powders for use in such applications as snack foods, cereals, dips and cookies. The line uses pinto beans, black beans, small red beans, navy beans, great northern beans, dark red kidney beans, chickpeas, pink beans and mayocoba beans. At ADM’s I.F.T. booth, hummus with 2 grams of fiber per serving included navy bean powder.

Pea fiber may appear in snacks, too, according to SunOpta Ingredients Group, Chelmsford, Mass., which promoted its SunOpta pea fiber and Canadian Harvest oat fiber at I.F.T.

Ranch-seasoned popper snacks included 3 grams of pea fiber per 28-gram serving. Pea fiber offers a bland flavor, a light color and a smooth texture, according to SunOpta. The company’s SunOpta pea fiber contains at least 90% dietary fiber on a dry basis. Moisture-binding properties have been shown to provide improved shelf life in baked foods and higher yields in meat systems. Applications include pasta, tortillas, cookies, crackers, cereals, extruded snacks, nutrition bars, muffins, bread, bake mixes, meat and meat substitutes.

The pea fiber recently joined SunOpta’s line of oat, soy and barley fibers. The company at I.F.T. featured a strawberry basil tomato pasta salad with 5 grams of oat fiber per serving.

Other forms of fiber provide benefits such as moisture retention and sweetness.

Citri-Fi fiber from citrus and extra water may be added to virtually any baked food formula to tightly bind and hold more moisture, according to Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, Wis. For example, the Aunt Millie’s brand of bagels now has Citri-Fi 100 in three bagel varieties to enhance their softness. Citri-Fi 200FG has been shown to prevent blowout and syneresis of fruit films and jams in pastry, and Citri-Fi also has been shown to provide strength and structure that is lost when gluten is removed from baked foods.

Inulin, often sourced from chicory root, may provide sweetness as well as fiber to applications. In fact, Sensus America, Inc., Lawrenceville, N.J., promoted its Frutalose SF75 sweet chicory root fiber as “sugar out – fiber in” at I.F.T. Frutalose SF75 is 65% as sweet as sugar and 75% dietary fiber. Cargill, Minneapolis, used its Oliggo-Fiber inulin to sweeten ice cream bars featured at its I.F.T. booth.

Corn Products International/National Starch, Bridgewater, N.J., at its I.F.T. booth offered a raspberry beverage with NutraFlora, a short-chain fructooligosaccharide (FOS) derived from beet or cane sugar, as well as the Enliten stevia-based sweetener and Purimune galactooligosaccharide. NutraFlora, a soft white powder, is soluble and about 30% as sweet as sugar.

Digestion ranks as a top benefit for both inulin and FOS. Beneo’s OraftiSynergy1 (oligofructose-enriched inulin) has a prebiotic effect and is tolerated well by babies, according to a study led by Gigi Veereman-Wauters, a professor of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition in Brussels, Belgium. The findings may lead to new opportunities for the prebiotic ingredient in the area of infant feeding. Dr. Veereman-Wauters said adding prebiotics to infant formula may provide physiological benefits that mimic those observed in breast-fed babies.

Resistant starch is another ingredient with fiber qualities that act in a prebiotic way to aid in digestion. Corn Products International/National Starch at I.F.T. featured its Hi-maize 260 resistant starch, sourced from corn, in chocolate bouchon breakfast cake with 5 grams of fiber per serving. MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kas., promoted its Fibersym RW, a resistant wheat starch that delivers a minimum 85% total dietary fiber.

Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine, Iowa, featured a cracker with TruBran corn bran at its I.F.T. booth. TruBran, made from yellow corn, contains a minimum of 75% total dietary fiber. It has been shown to increase the fiber in snacks, cereals, baked foods, nutritional bars, beverages and supplements.

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