Formulating better-for-you foods that appeal to children can be difficult, but there are ways to add fiber and cut fat that maintain taste, texture and product quality. In this exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A, Patrick O’Brien, marketing manager, bakery, for Ingredion, Westchester, IL, describes how specialty flours and resistant starches can be used to improve the nutritional profile of foods offered to children.

Baking & Snack: Is Ingredion involved in projects with your customers involving foods formulated to improve the health of children? Of foods that fit USDA’s new school meal program (51% whole grains, low-sodium, etc.)? What are you doing?

Patrick O’Brien: Nutrition can be addressed in two ways, nutrition by addition and/or nutrition by reduction. The Ingredion portfolio includes a complete line of nutritional ingredients, specialty starches, flours, and sweeteners that allow for the reduction of fats, sugar, and sodium.

One example is our HOMECRAFT CREATE 765 specialty flour solution. The unique specialty flour possesses fat mimetic qualities that allow bakers, manufacturers and processors the opportunity to reduce the fat content in their indulgent baked goods, like dessert mixes, cakes, pastries, and cookies while saving on cost and maintaining nearly identical taste, texture and product quality. The solution can help you improve the nutritional profile by reducing total calories, calories from fat and grams of fat per serving.

In addition, Ingredion offers a comprehensive range of prebiotic and soluble fibers, resistant starch, whole grain corn flour, and a unique mineral source that provides important health benefits in the areas of digestive, bone/joint, glycemic, and immune health.

Hi-maize® resistant starch is particularly suited to bakery because it easily and invisibly replaces flour in baked goods while maintaining the taste and texture that consumers prefer. There is also published clinical (human) evidence that including Hi-maize resistant starch in a person’s diet can improve their metabolic state – healthier blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity – without weight loss. It independently improves insulin sensitivity and helps to restore metabolic balance. There is also published clinical (human) evidence that Hi-maize resistant starch helps people stay fuller for longer and eat less, not only for 2 to 3 hours after eating, but because of its metabolic effects, people are less hungry the day after they have eaten foods with Hi-maize resistant starch.

While Hi-maize delivers fewer calories than high glycemic flour, its metabolic benefits go far beyond calorie reduction in helping consumers stay healthy and well. In addition, more consumers believe that “helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels” is an extremely or very important labeling claim.

NUTRAFLORA® soluble fiber, PURIMUNE® high purity GOS and NUTRIOSE® resistant dextrin are excellent soluble fibers that work well in baked goods to add dietary fiber, and reduce calories. In addition, Hi-maize® whole grain corn flour has been shown to increase satiety and help people to eat less. When used in baked goods, it delivers whole grain goodness as well as dietary fiber and resistant starch.

What do you advise bakers and snack food manufacturers that want to formulate foods that could improve kids’ health?

When formulating foods with improved nutritional profiles, it is important that the products maintain great taste, texture and product quality. Ingredion has the product portfolio and technical capabilities to help you formulate better for you products.

Our marketing intelligence and consumer trend insights enable us to develop innovative solutions that address emerging consumer demands in the area of nutrition and kids’ health.

Bakers and snack food manufacturers look to us to partner with them to deliver products that deliver on-trend products with the same tastes and textures they have come to expect from traditional offerings.

Does your company work with any nonprofit groups that support kids’ health through play and physical activity? Which are they? And what is Ingredion’s involvement? How has your support moved these projects forward?

Giving back to the communities where our employees live and work is an important part of our culture. In addition to our corporate charitable contributions, we encourage employee philanthropy and volunteerism. In the US, we match eligible employee donations and encourage community relations efforts.

We donate our time and treasure to a variety of causes. Leaders on a local level identify the most appropriate recipients of our charitable contributions and volunteer efforts based on the needs of the local community. We, and our employees, have contributed both funds and time to build playgrounds for children, plus we have funded a range of organizations and programs from the Red Cross and local food banks to scholarship funds and arts programs.