In the face of the ongoing obesity crisis, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines targeted the nation’s unhealthy habits instead of healthy ones in the past. For the fourth and final part of our online series on producing new products for satiety and weight management,Baking & Snackinterviewed Joseph O’Neill, executive vice-president of sales and marketing, BENEO Inc., Morris Plains, NJ.

Baking & Snack: What role can your ingredients play in producing satiety? Or is there another mechanism in effect?

Joseph O’Neill:Almost all of the healthy and functional advantages of BENEO ingredients bear on weight control in some notable way such as by contributing to a more balanced diet or by helping to maintain overall physical health and wellness and a strong sense of personal well-being. These ingredients can contribute to the youthful, productive and active habits that keep people fit for a lifetime.

New research is demonstrating a decrease in energy intake with BENEO’s inulin and oligofructose, which provide major breakthrough when it comes to controlling weight. Furthermore, within the discussion about weight management and fuel management, insulin level plays a key role. Its function is based on the fact that carbohydrates (glucose) are preferentially used in energy metabolism while the use of fat is suppressed. Isomaltulose (Palatinose), causing only a very low insulinemic reaction, helps to improve fat oxidation in energy metabolism during physical activity. Generally speaking, a balanced energy supply achieved via low-glycemic nutrition, enabled through the use of isomaltulose, isomalt or oligofructose, may have a positive effect on weight management in the long run.

How do you see this category of foods developing in the next 18 months? What factors will be most important to their success?

In today’s competitive, rapidly-evolving food and beverage industries, food manufacturers face mounting pressure to formulate or reformulate foods to help consumers manage their weight. Thus we will see a still growing weight-management food category taking advantage of nutritional benefits such as sugar reduction, fat reduction or fiber enrichment, but also of health benefits such as low glycemic index (GI) solutions, improved use of fat storages and more.

We regard taste, texture and ease of applications, as well as sound science, as relevant factors for healthier options and their success in the market. This is especially due to consumers’ need and desire for healthy and beneficial food without sacrifices in taste, appearance, texture and thus indulgence. Also, with increasing information and sophistication, more and more consumers — and thus manufacturers — are not only looking for products that claim health benefits like weight control, they want those benefits to be supported by rigorous scientific proof. On all these fronts, BENEO is a world leader in supplying functional food and beverage ingredients that directly address all of the important and evolving demands of the consumer products markets of today and tomorrow. Of course, for manufacturers, it also helps that these ingredients are both multifunctional and highly versatile.

What ingredients does your company offer for food products intended to help with weight management?

Reduced- and low-calorie products are important tools for achieving a pleasant and tasteful diet that also cuts calories. BENEO ingredients help manufacturers develop alternative recipes for foods with lower energy content intended to assist consumers with weight management issues. The objective, of course, is to reduce total calorie intake so consumers need to learn that eating a lower calorie product does not mean that they can eat more of it.

BENEO offers a range of naturally-derived functional ingredients made from chicory, sugar beet, rice and wheat. They enable food manufacturers to formulate products with a variety of value-added benefits such as: reduced sugar, reduced calorie, reduced fat, sugar-free, prebiotics, low GI, fiber enriched and improved digestive health. All of these are boons for weight management either by decreasing energy intake, managing energy consumption in the body or by supporting higher energy expenditure from fat resources during exercise and activity.

BENEO produces the sugar replacer isomalt. Derived from pure sugar beet, it has a similar sweetening profile to sucrose yet only half the calories (2 kcal/g). It is highly beneficial in replacing sugar in products such as baked goods, chewing gum or confectionery. Being low-digestible, the body’s enzymes split isomalt only partially. This leads to a low increase in blood glucose and insulin levels after consumption of isomalt and enables reduction of the blood glucose response and the energy content of products with isomalt compared to those with sugar. This is good news, considering that the World Health Organization has recommended that, within a healthy carbohydrate-based diet, low-glycemic foods are preferred. Replacement with isomalt can result in a low-caloric, tooth-friendly and low GI alternatives.

In addition to isomalt, BENEO’s product range also includes isomaltulose (Palatinose). It is the only low glycemic, low insulinemic carbohydrate providing sustained energy in the form of glucose over a longer period of time. Furthermore, it is the first non-cariogenic sugar. Isomaltulose is a fully digestible carbohydrate, derived from beet sugar, and as such, provides the full carbohydrate energy (4 kcal/g). However, as a result of its different linkage, isomaltulose is a slowly-released carbohydrate. It provides its energy in a much more balanced way over a longer period of time, without the large blood glucose fluctuations associated with conventional, readily available carbohydrates. This brings a number of physiological advantages with respect to energy supply and metabolic regulations.

For instance, various studies have already established that BENEO’s isomaltulose helps to increase the proportion of energy derived from fat in overall energy consumption. Isomaltulose can be used in a wide range of food products like functional beverages, including instant drinks and sports nutrition, dairy products, chocolates, cereals, bars and baked goods, as well as special nutrition.

BENEO’s all-natural range of chicory-derived inulin and oligofructose ingredients can be used in a wide range of applications from dairy products to fruit preparations, baked goods, confections and more. Both are derived from chicory root, contribute partial sweetness and can contribute to reducing the sugar content in food. Moreover, they offer a 50% reduction in calories compared to sugar while they also offer prebiotic benefits and the ability to mask off flavors/off notes eventually associated with high-intensity sweeteners. Also, it is notable that when food and beverage formulators make use of all-natural inulin and oligofructose, they add prebiotic fiber benefits to the mix — reducing sugar and improving taste in the process. The nutritional advantages offer an extra measure of defense against obesity and diabetes in addition to the digestive health benefits of all-natural prebiotic dietary fiber. Furthermore, inulin replaces fat in applications such as dairy and bakery while keeping a fat-like texture.

Then there are BENEO’s broad range of rice derivatives, which are hypo-allergenic and naturally free of gluten and lactose. They also are organic, natural and whole grain and represent another far-reaching and multifunctional resource for delicious and appealing fat replacement and calorie reduction.

Rice starch affords formulators with control over textures that can be fine-tuned for creamy, crunchy, filmy or crispy character. People of all ages and cultures prefer the taste and mouth-feel of high-fat foods. This is one of the major reasons why millions of consumers exceed their recommended daily calorie intake. It is not difficult to create low-fat foods, but it is a real challenge to create fat-reduced food products that feel and taste as attractive as the full fat versions.

Because rice starch granules mimic the feeling of fat globules in the mouth, rice starch can be used for fat reduced alternatives in food applications such as dairy desserts, fat-based fillings and even bakery products. By using such ingredients, formulators can create low-fat products with an appealing creamy texture.

Editor’s Note: This concludes our exclusive online series on ingredients for satiety and weight management.

Read More on the Subject:
Ingredients for weight management, part 1 with Dave Pfefer, product manager, enrichment/fortification blends, Caravan Ingredients
Ingredients for weight management, part 2 with Ody Maningat, PhD, vice-president of applications technology and technical services, MGP Ingredients
Ingredients for weight management, part 3 with Rhonda Witwer, senior business development manager, nutrition, National Starch Food Innovation
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Into the future of weight management