Not all whole grains are abundant in fiber. If more consumers be-come aware of this fact, food manufacturers may look for ingredients that increase fiber levels in their whole grain bread, tortillas and cereal bars.
Nearly 85% of consumers that chose foods with a whole grain label assumed the foods were a good source or an excellent source of fiber, according to research published last year in Nutrition Today.
Yet whole grains vary in fiber levels. For example, hulled barley has 17 grams of fiber per 100 grams while brown rice has 3.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams, said Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn.
“So there is a large range,” she said.
The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., recommends people review the fiber content of whole grain foods to see if the products have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, which would qualify the product as a good source of fiber. Kellogg promotes many of its cereals for having at least 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of whole grain per serving.
A whole grain study from the Harvard School of Public Health addressed fiber (see related story on Page 32). Among the guidelines, researchers recommended was a ratio of 10:1 or less of carbohydrates to fiber in whole grain products.
“Few servings of whole grain foods are even a good source of fiber, especially with our push for smaller serving sizes to help in weight management,” Dr. Slavin said.
There are ways to increase fiber levels in such whole grain foods.
“Lots of different fibers can be added to grain foods, and should be — inulin, polydextrose, wheat dextrin, soluble corn fiber, resistant maltodextrin, just to name a few,” Dr. Slavin said.
Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine, Iowa, offers TruBran corn bran ingredients that contain 85% dietary fiber. TruBran F75M is a finely milled ingredient that mixes easily with flour or other dry ingredients, according to Grain Processing Corp., while TruBran F75R has a coarse particle size that may be chosen for applications where a more visual fiber is desired.
“We have been successful at adding 4% to 15% levels of TruBran F75M or TruBran F75R corn bran to increase the fiber content of bakery formulas,” said Tonya Armstrong, senior applications scientist for Grain Processing Corp.
Adding TruBran F75M to a whole grain tortilla may raise its fiber level to 5 grams per serving, which would qualify the tortilla for an excellent source of fiber claim. Adding TruBran F75M to whole grain rolls may accomplish the same task.
Horizon Milling, L.L.C., a Minneapolis-based joint venture between Cargill and CHS, offers a GrainWise wheat aleurone. While GrainWise, at 55% fiber, may have a lower percentage of fiber than some other ingredients, it has other sources of nutrition such as choline and B vitamins, said Jeff Casper, research and development manager for Horizon Milling.
By adding GrainWise at 20%, an excellent source of fiber claim may be achieved in whole wheat bread. Even cheese puffs may qualify for an excellent source of
fiber claim through the addition of GrainWise.
Besides whole grain items, gluten-free products also may need fiber boosts, Mr. Casper said. Gluten-containing ingredients such as wheat, rye and barley often have higher fiber content than the gluten-free ingredients that replace them.
SunOpta Ingredients, Chelmsford, Mass., offers gluten-free oat fiber ingredients under its Canadian Harvest line. All of the ingredients are at least 93% fiber. They differ by fiber content, fiber length, water and oil-holding capacity and particle size.
Omaha-based ConAgra Mills offers Sustagrain, a proprietary, identity-preserved waxy, hull-less barley. Dietary fiber makes up more than 50% of Sustagrain’s carbohydrates. It is available as fine flour or flakes and may boost fiber in bread, rice blends, hot cereal, ready-to-eat cereal and bars.
Inclusions are another option in fiber formulation. QualiTech, Inc., Chaska, Minn., offers Flavor-ettes, Pell-ettes and Flav-R-Grains that have been shown to mask flavor and consistency issues associated with adding fiber, said Tracy Schrepfer, research and development manager for QualiTech. They may be used in bread, muffins, cakes, bagels, tortilla chips, breading, biscuits, waffles, donuts and cereal.
Ms. Schrepfer said one QualiTech customer had a problem with cereal bars. Adding fiber would interact with the base formula in unpredictable ways and lead to crumbly or inconsistent bars. To alleviate the problem, the customer initially needed another operational step, which added time and money to the process.
“Qualitech devised a one-step solution by adding a fiber-rich, pecan-flavored inclusion to the base formula,” Ms. Schrepfer said. “The Flavor-ette inclusion carried the additional fiber but didn’t interfere with the mixing. The result was a fiber-rich bar in which taste, quality, consistency and mouthfeel weren’t compromised, and the additional operational step was eliminated, saving time and money.”
The bars also had 31 to 36 grams of whole grain per serving.
Consumers want both fiber-rich and whole grain products, according to the 2012 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation, Washington. When making decisions about buying packaged foods or beverages, 67% of survey respondents said they considered whether the products had whole grains and 62% said they considered whether the products had fiber.
Harvard’s approval of 10:1 ratio draws critiques
A Harvard School of Public Health study that assessed whole grain standards included comments on fiber in whole grain products. In the study that appeared on-line Jan. 4 in Public Health Nutrition, the researchers said an American Heart Association standard, which promotes a total carbohydrate:fiber ratio of 10:1 or less, was the best indicator of overall healthfulness.
The researchers found whole grain products meeting this ratio were higher in fiber and lower in trans fats, sugar and sodium than products that did not meet the ratio.
“We are always searching for the Holy Grail of healthy,” said Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn. “There is a lot of frustration with all the whole grain products out there that contain hardly any fiber. So this ratio might get at that problem. A better approach might be to have government standards for whole grain foods.”
Others expressed potential problems with the 10:1 ratio.
“That’s a pretty interesting concept,” said Jeff Casper, research and development manager for Horizon Milling, L.L.C., a Minneapolis-based joint venture between Cargill and CHS.
He said consumers might understand the concept’s simple math involving carbohydrates, fiber and division. He added the ratio does not take into account other positive elements in certain whole grains. For example, quinoa is lower in fiber than some other whole grains, but it has an exceptional amino acid profile.
“Granted, we need to be eating more fiber, but we also need to get other compounds in our body,” Mr. Casper said.
Brown rice, wild rice, sorghum and whole cornmeal would not attain the 10:1 ratio, according to the Whole Grains Council, Boston. However, adding isolated fibers to a product full of refined grains and sugars may allow the product to attain the 10:1 ratio.
“Our experience suggests F.D.A. would find this approach misleading and unacceptable and would not allow use of the 10:1 ratio, if used on products that would not otherwise qualify as whole grains,” the Whole Grains Council said.