Fiber and . . .

by Jeff Gelski
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Studies continue to show consumers need more fiber in their diet and they are looking for it when they make food selections. Formulators seeking to tap into the fiber market may wish to investigate how certain fiber-rich ingredients are accompanied by added benefits. Some may offer omega-3 fatty acids or whole grains while other fiber sources may add protein or sweetness to a finished product.

The mean dietary fiber intake for Americans was 15.9 grams per day in 2007-08, which marked a small increase from 15.6 grams per day in 1999-2000, according to a study appearing in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

There is room for im-provement. The Institute of Medicine has goals of fiber consumption ranging from 22 grams to 34 grams per day for adults.

Consumers want to im-prove their fiber intake, too. According to the 2012 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation, 56% of respondents were trying to get a certain amount of fiber or as much as possible into their diet. Washington-based Mathew Greenwald & Associates con-ducted the survey by contacting 1,057 Americans, all between the ages of 18 to 80, from April 3 to April 13.

Fiber and omega-3 fatty acids

The IFIC survey showed 25% of respondents were looking for ways to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into their diets.

Flaxseed and chia seed both have fiber and a form of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). According to the Flax Council of Canada, more than half the fat in flaxseeds is ALA while flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Twelve grams of chia seeds contain 5 grams of dietary fiber and about 2.4 grams of ALA, according to Nutiva, an Oxnard, Calif.-based supplier of chia seed to retail outlets. Demand for Nutiva’s organic chia seed has increased five-fold in the past year, said John Roulac, founder and chief executive officer.

The company in the past has supplied chia seed to beverage companies, but it is not doing so this year because the recent demand and weather conditions in South America have reduced the chia seed supply, Mr. Roulac said. About 400 hectares of chia crops in Peru were wiped out, and Paraguay’s crop is recovering from a frost in 2011.

Nutiva, which also sources chia seed from Mexico, suspended all sales of its organic bulk 3-lb and 10-lb chia sizes and is concentrating on the 14-oz size.

“On the organic side, there’s going to be a shortage for probably a year and a half,” Mr. Roulac said.

Fiber and protein

The IFIC survey showed 48% of consumers were seeking to incorporate protein into their diet. That finding, as well as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, may bode well for beans. According to the guidelines, beans are an excellent source of both fiber and protein.

Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., offers VegeFull cooked ground beans. Black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans and pinto beans all contain more than 7 grams of protein and more than 6 grams of fiber per cup.

ADM will feature bean ingredients at booth No. 2020 during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition June 26-28 in Las Vegas. A cranberry crisp nutrition bar will include bean crisps as well as sorghum crisps, soy protein crisps, lecithin, isoflavones, phytosterols, Fiber-sol LQ, natural vitamin E and corn syrup. Chips at the ADM booth will have enough Navy beans to qualify for half a serving of vegetables per half-ounce bag.

Fiber and whole grains

The IFIC survey showed 57% of respondents were looking to include whole grains in their eating.
According to research pub-lished in the May/June issue of Nutrition Today, nearly 85% of consumers who choose food products with a whole grain label assume the products are a good source or excellent source of fiber. However, fiber content in whole grains varies.

“Americans can increase their intake of fiber by making informed choices when it comes to the foods they eat,” said DeAnn Liska, Ph.D., senior director of nutrition at the Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., and a co-author. “One way they can do this is to ‘flip to the fiber,’ or study the nutrition guidelines on labels to make sure those foods are at least a good source of fiber, providing 3 grams or more.”

Scooter’s Coffee House recently intro-duced Healthy Harvest Hot Multi-Grain Cereal, an oatmeal product that has 6 grams of fiber per serving. The cereal includes Sustagrain, a 100% whole grain product line from ConAgra Mills, Omaha. Sustagrain is derived from barley.

“Compared to traditional oatmeal, Sustagrain offers several benefits,” said Elizabeth Arndt, Ph.D, director of research and development, ConAgra Foods. “Nutritionally, Sustagrain has three times the total and soluble fiber of oats. The slightly sweet, malted flavor makes it perfect as a stand-alone grain or for blending with other grains, including oats.”

Sustagrain contains 30% total dietary fiber. More than 50% of its carbohydrates are dietary fiber, and 40% of its dietary fiber is in the form of beta glucan, which has been shown to lower cholesterol.

“The combination of fiber type and content, along with low-starch content, gives product developers an advantage in formulating whole grain foods with increased fiber density and greater health and wellness benefits,” Dr. Arndt said.

Fiber and sweetness

Inulin, which has fiber characteristics, may aid in sugar reduction efforts because of its sweetness. Often sourced from chicory root, inulin has appeared in new products this year.

The Kellogg Co. in March launched Kellogg’s Special K granola bars in the flavors of dark chocolate and chocolate peanut butter. Each bar contains 4 grams of fiber. Soluble corn fiber, rolled oats, soluble wheat fiber and chicory root fiber are some of the fiber sources on the ingredient list.

General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, in April launched a chocolate chip flavor variety of Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies with 5 grams of fiber. Chicory root extract and sugarcane fiber are some of the fiber sources on the ingredient list.

Food companies may source inulin ingredients from several suppliers.

Sensus America, L.L.C., Lawrenceville, N.J., offers Frutalose SF75, a sweet chicory root fiber that is 75% fiber and 65% as sweet as sugar. The company will feature inulin/chicory root fiber in cookies with a reduced amount of sugar at booth No. 459 during the I.F.T. annual meeting and food exposition.

BENEO, another inulin supplier, offers oligofructose, which is a mixture of oligosaccharides that are composed of fructose units. Oligofructose is a natural sugar replacer, according to BENEO.

NovaGreen Inc., based in Alberta, plans to produce inulin within two years. The company will use a technology called sequential extraction to convert biomass such as wheat straw, corn stover, wood chips and Jerusalem artichoke into an array of products, including inulin.

“We know that retailers and processed foods manufacturers across North America are looking to increase dietary fiber throughout their product lines,” said Barry Farquharson, chief executive officer of NovaGreen. “There is an enormous potential market here. And the fact that NovaGreen is based in North America will give us numerous advantages over current offshore suppliers.”

Cargill, Minneapolis, promotes an array of benefits, including sweetness, for its Oliggo-Fiber inulin.
“Cargill has different types of inulin, with various fructose unit chain lengths, fiber levels, forms (powder and liquid) and sugar content,” said Carol Lowry, senior applications scientist – Health & Nutrition, Cargill. “When compared to a 10% sucrose solution, the sweetness of inulin can vary from 2% to 50% as sweet as this 10% sucrose solution.”

Inulin works well in no-sugar-added or sugar-free applications such as instant beverages, cakes, fruit preparations and dairy products, she said. Oliggo-Fiber inulin has digestive health benefits because it is prebiotic, and it also aids in dietary calcium absorption in the body to help build and maintain strong bones.

Cargill extracts its inulin from chicory root grown in Belgium. This year Cargill made Oliggo-Fiber available in syrup form, which is 50% as sweet as a 10% sucrose solution and has been shown to work well in bars and fruit preparations.

At its I.F.T. booth No. 1721, Cargill will include inulin in its blueberry snack bars with yogurt flavored drizzle as well as pretzels.

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