Resistant starch and inulin, both prebiotics recognized for adding fiber to products, are gaining more credibility for their low-glycemic benefits. Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., is awaiting word on a health claim petition filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its high-amylose corn resistant starch, and last year the European Food Safety Authority recognized resistant starch, inulin and other non-digestible carbohydrates for their glycemic response benefits.
The regulatory movement occurs as people have reason to consider low-glycemic food options. In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The Ingredion petition, which is under review as a potential qualified health claim, involves the company’s Hi-Maize resistant starch and reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. Eight clinical trials showed Hi-Maize resistant starch from high-amylose corn improved insulin sensitivity or other biomarkers accepted by the F.D.A. as evidence of reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Ingredion said.
“The claim petition is specific to the reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes and is primarily targeted for products aimed at consumers who are concerned with maintaining their glycemic health and reducing their risk of type 2 diabetes,” said Christine Pelkman, Ph.D., senior nutrition scientist and clinical research manager for Ingredion.
Hi-Maize, a white powder, may be incorporated into such food products as nutrition bars, bread, cookies, muffins and other baked foods, some cereals, pasta, shakes, smoothies and dietary supplements, Dr. Pelkman said.
Hi-Maize studies have been conducted in a range of populations over the years, including healthy populations, pre-diabetic populations and subjects with type 2 diabetes, said Lorraine Niba, Ph.D., global director, nutrition innovation for Ingredion.
Resistant starch also may come from wheat, as is the case with Fibersym RW from MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kas. Studies at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kas., have shown Fibersym RW, when formulated in a nutritional bar, reduces the glycemic and insulin response of healthy people as well as people with type 2 diabetes.
Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., Davis, Calif., has developed wheat lines with greater levels of resistant starch. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted U.S. Patent No. 9,150,839 to Arcadia Biosciences for “Wheat with increased resistant starch levels,” the company announced Oct. 12.
Resistant starch, a form of dietary fiber, is digested more slowly than regular starch, which results in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream, according to Arcadia Biosciences. Because of the slower release, food products made with resistant starch wheat may have a lower glycemic index.
“Because wheat is the world’s largest cultivated crop, it’s a key focus for the health-promoting benefits of resistant starch,” said Eric Rey, president and chief executive officer of Arcadia Biosciences, an agricultural technology company based in Davis.
Last year the European Food Safety Authority’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies concluded that a cause-and-effect relationship has been established between consumption of foods and beverages containing non-digestible carbohydrates and a reduction of post-prandial glycemic responses as compared with foods and beverages containing glycemic carbohydrates.
Non-digestible carbohydrates include most dietary fibers such as inulin and oligofructose, resistant starch, and rice bran, according to Beneo, Morris Plains, N.J.
Inulin or oligofructose, a sweeter form of inulin, are found in a variety of plants. Sensus, Beneo and Cargill all offer inulin/oligofructose ingredients sourced from chicory root. Inulin was an ingredient in low-glycemic frozen desserts under the Arctic Zero brand and the Brio brand at Natural Products Expo East Sept. 17-19 in Baltimore.
Inulin, a high-fiber carbohydrate, is not broken down or digested into simple sugars by the upper digestive tract, according to Sensus. Instead, the gut microbiota in the intestinal tract ferments inulin, which means inulin does not affect blood glucose level and triggers a minimal glycemic response. Pure inulin and oligofructose have a glycemic index of about zero, which compares to 100 for glucose, according to Sensus.