The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends increased fiber intake, which may inspire formulation innovations in grain-based foods, including those featuring whole grains, fruit inclusions and pulse flour. The Dietary Guidelines considers calcium, potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin D as nutrients of public health concern because low intakes are associated with health problems. Low intakes of dietary fiber are due to low intakes of vegetables, fruit and whole grains, according to the Dietary Guidelines.
The amount of fiber content varies by whole grain type. Whole grain barley offers 7.8 grams of fiber per 45-gram serving, said Kelly Toups, a registered dietitian and program manager for the Whole Grains Council, Boston. Other high fiber whole grains include rye at 6.8 grams per serving and triticale at 6.6 grams. Other whole grains qualifying as excellent sources of fiber (about 5 grams per serving) are bulgur wheat, red wheat and white wheat. Whole grains qualifying as good sources of fiber (almost 3 grams per serving) are amaranth, buckwheat, cornmeal, millet, oats, quinoa, sorghum, teff, wild rice, Kamut khorasan wheat and durum wheat.
“Food producers, like home cooks, have made great strides in learning how to work with whole grains,” Ms. Toups said. “You can’t just take out the white flour and substitute whole grains. Sophisticated formulation is necessary, and fortunately, companies are becoming quite adept at this.”
Microwavable, individually packaged intact grains are growing in popularity.
“We have seen this with minute ready-to-serve brown rice cups for a few years now, but now we are seeing this approach to expand into microwavable packages of farro, quinoa and other whole grains,” she said.
Grain-based foods in general provide a good amount of fiber, a fact the Grain Foods Foundation, Washington, detailed at an International Dietary Fibre conference in Paris last June. The G.F.F. has worked with Nutrition Impact, a consulting firm, to assess consumer consumption data sets with a focus on grain consumption. Adults who eat certain grain food patterns (cereals, pasta, cooked cereals, rice, crackers, salty snacks, pancakes, waffles and quick bread) have less saturated fat and increased fiber intake in their diets, according to the data.
Fruit’s fiber and sweetness
Like fiber intake, fruit intake could improve, too. Less than 30% of Americans eat the recommended amount of fruit, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
A quarter cup of raisins provides 2 grams of fiber, said Larry Blagg, senior vice-president of marketing for the California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, Calif.
“California raisins have long been used by bakers to help add fiber to their recipes, whether it be in raisin bread, hot cross buns, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal raisin cookies, cereals or more recently developed health bars and breakfast bars,” he said.
A 40-gram serving of prunes offers 3 grams of fiber, said Tom Leahy, president of CropSource International, L.L.C., Walnut Creek, Calif.
“It does need to be said that we have not found bakers or cereal or bar makers looking to fruit inclusions, even prunes, as a way to boost fiber in their products,” he said. “There are other types of fibers that allow formulators to reach levels of fiber per serving beyond which prunes can approach. For example, the most fiber we have been able to add to bread made with prune inclusions is about 1 gram fiber per serving. While this is not insignificant when the starting point might be 2 grams per serving, it is a long way from the 6 to 8 grams you often see now in products in bakery departments.
“The main benefits of fruit inclusions, including prunes, in grain-based products are adding natural sweetness and culinary interest along with a ‘health halo’ for brand positioning. Fiber is a nice add-on, but usually not the driving reason for usage.”
Peas, lentils and chickpeas are all excellent sources of fiber, according to the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, Moscow, Idaho. Per 100 grams, lentil flour contains 33 grams of fiber while dry pea flour contains 26 grams of fiber and chickpea flour has 11 grams of fiber.
Adding 7% cooked yellow dry pea flour to a breadstick formula can create an item with 12 grams of protein (excellent source) and 3 grams of fiber (good source) per 106-gram serving, according to the council. Adding 8% precooked yellow pea flour to pizza crust can create a 94-gram serving that has 10 grams of protein (excellent source) and 3 grams of fiber (good source).
No matter the source — be it grains, fruit or pulses — consumers are looking to add fiber to their diets. The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2015 Food and Health Survey found 55% of respondents are trying to get a certain amount of fiber or as much as possible, ranking just behind whole grains at 56%.