KANSAS CITY — People looking to add more fiber to their diets may find answers in a glass. Soluble fiber is appearing in beverages such as juices, meal-replacement beverages and even cold brew coffee.
The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2017 Food & Health Survey found 87% of respondents said they consider fiber to be healthy. Internal research for London-based Tate & Lyle, P.L.C. conducted by Qualtrics showed 60% of Americans are looking to consume more fiber.
“However, many consumers claim that they are not eating more fiber because there are not enough products with fiber available on the market,” said Michael Segal, health and wellness platform director for Tate & Lyle and based in Hoffman Estates, Ill. “These findings pose a real opportunity for manufacturers to introduce more fiber-fortified products to market, and we’re working to provide them with more options to deliver on consumer demand.”
Soluble fiber is being added to functional beverages such as juices, smoothies, and nutritional and performance drinks, he said.
“Not only do they offer a variety of nutritional benefits such as promoting digestive health, satiety and healthy blood cholesterol levels, they also align with growing consumer demand for convenience and portability,” Mr. Segal said.
He said formulators, when adding fiber, may consider the “five Cs”: consumer sentiment, digestive comfort, clean labels, health-benefit claims and cost-in-use.
Consumer sentiment pertains to taste, color and texture. Fibers should come from natural sources and be well tolerated for digestive comfort. A health benefit claim may be one that relates oat beta-glucan and healthy blood cholesterol, Mr. Segal said.
“Finally cost-in-use becomes a factor in relation to process stability,” he said. “If manufacturers choose a fiber with exceptional stability, they won’t have to overcompensate for fiber loss during process or storage. This may result in a more attractive cost-in-use.”
Tate & Lyle offers Promitor soluble corn fiber, which is well-tolerated at up to 65 grams per day, for use in beverages. The company’s PromOat beta glucan, a soluble fiber from non-bioengineered Swedish oats, also may be used in beverages.
Fibersol, a corn-based soluble fiber, may be used in health-focused beverages, particularly juices and meal-replacement beverages, said Shawn Sprankle, a research scientist for Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago. ADM/Matsutani, L.L.C., a joint venture between ADM, Matsutani Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. and Matsutani America, Inc., offers Fibersol.
A prototype spiced cold brew coffee with Fibersol contained 6 grams of fiber along with 10 grams of protein at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Las Vegas in June.
“This is a great example of how plant-based soluble fibers such as Fibersol can help beverage makers increase fiber content without fiber’s usual drawbacks because Fibersol is well-tolerated,” Mr. Sprankle said.
Each gram of Fibersol is 90% fiber and contains 0.02 grams of sugar and 1.6 calories, said Doris Dougherty, Fibersol technical service representative for ADM. A small amount of Fibersol has been shown to help improve body and mouthfeel as well as sweetness linger, she said.
“Viscosity is also important for beverage applications because it has the potential to impact formulation or require process adjustments,” Ms. Dougherty said. “As low viscosity, soluble fiber, Fibersol is easy to incorporate and requires minimal formulation and process adjustments.”
Inulin, a soluble fiber sourced from chicory root, is another avenue for fiber inclusion in beverages. Branded ingredients include Frutafit from Sensus, Orafti from Beneo and Oliggo-Fiber from Cargill.
“Because it doesn’t affect the taste or texture of the final product, beverage manufacturers may incorporate chicory root fiber into a wide array of products,” said Pam Stauffer, global marketing programs manager for Minneapolis-based Cargill.
Studies have shown that 5 grams of chicory root fiber per day may help feed beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut, she said. Chicory root fiber enhances the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.