Fibers

Improve diet and nutrition

fibers
fibers

Fibers

Improve diet and nutrition

Fibers

Fiber is an important aspect of diet and nutrition. It plays a role in many physiological digestive functions, such as providing bulk for waste elimination and regulating blood glucose and lipid levels. Traditionally, consumers have chosen foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as sources of dietary fiber. Recently, food manufacturers have responded to the consumer demand for foods with higher fiber content by developing products in which high-fiber ingredients are used. These ingredients have unique properties that raise the fiber level and also serve other functions in the formulation of food products. High-fiber ingredients can range from whole-meal flours of cereals to the exterior portion of shellfish. Synthetic ingredients such as polydextrose are also a source of high-fiber ingredients.

There are about 50 different types of high-fiber ingredients to choose from for developing a food product—a wide array of ingredients that encompasses a wide range of functionalities. Combining them with the ingredient processor’s ability to tailor functions through processing leads to an even larger spectrum of choices. This handbook is written to help the food product developer and those involved in the manufacture of foods understand the properties, functions, and applications of high-fiber ingredients.

The properties of high-fiber ingredients vary widely and are influenced by many factors. First, the category itself is quite broad and encompasses ingredients from many different types of sources. In addition to the type of fiber, the type and degree of processing to produce the ingredient can create even more diversity in fiber properties.

The properties of the fiber, of course, affect its functions. Fibers can function in foods by adding bulk, increasing viscosity, forming gels, and replacing or mimicking fats, as well as performing other functions. Therefore, to understand how a high-fiber ingredient will function and affect the formulation, it is important to closely examine the factors that influence its properties.

Of all the categories of food products, the most common fiber-enriched products are the baked and extruded grain products. High-fiber breads and cereals are widely available and are consumed as a means of meeting the recommended amounts of dietary fiber in the daily diet. While these products are now widely available, many obstacles were encountered during their development. Consumers found the texture and flavor of many of the first high-fiber breads unpleasant. In addition, when consumers became aware that cellulose, one of the first high-fiber ingredients used in breadmaking, was derived from wood sources, the term “sawdust” became associated with these breads. However, new developments in high-fiber ingredients have allowed processors to formulate good-tasting, consumer-accepted high-fiber bread products. Although problems with product shapes and bowl-life still exist with many high-fiber extruded cereals, improvements have been made and the products have become accepted by consumers. High-fiber ingredients have also become widely used in this product category as a means of decreasing the fat and calorie content of these foods.