Fibre gets boost from slow-carb movement

Low-carbohydrate eating patterns have been a boon for protein ingredients suppliers, at least in the US, as food manufacturers have clamoured for new ways to increase protein content. Now, according to a report from Datamonitor Productscan Online, fibre may be the next ingredient to benefit from the low-carb explosion.

Better consumer understanding of what constitutes good and bad carbs, health epidemics such as obesity and heart disease, as well as government campaigns are driving up fibre consumption. Suppliers are meeting demand with fibre ingredients that replace sugars without significant taste and texture alterations.

?A federal dietary guidelines advisory panel has recommended at least three servings of whole grains a day,? said Productscan Online?s executive director Tom Vierhile. ?Assuming this recommendation is adopted for the revised Food Pyramid in the US, it should encourage the introduction of more fibre-rich foods.?

?Right now there is a huge focus on fibre,? said Rhonda Witwer, National Starch business development manager in nutrition. ?Regardless of the low-carb diets about at the moment, a significant percentage of the population, maybe half, have figured out their blood-sugar levels affect how they feel through the day and have a big impact on their health condition. They are looking for high-fibre foods. We have replaced and increased fibre in white bread, and you can?t taste it.?

National Starch has petitioned the Food & Drug Administration to differentiate fibre from total carbs on nutrition panels.

?The next stage in this (low-carb) evolution is ?slow-carb? and that is what fibre is all about,? said Laurent Leduc, president of Belgian ingredients supplier Acatris? North American health division, which produces a high-fibre flax ingredient, FenuLife. ?FenuLife binds the fibre to the glucose during digestion. It gives you a progressive release for about three hours. You feel like you are full for much longer, and you don?t get the blood sugar spike.?

Eric Neven, European sales manager of Belgian ingredients supplier Orafti, said a better fat/sugar/fibre balance in many foods was required rather than the total removal of sugars or fats. ?You can replace 20 per cent of sugar with an ingredient like oligofructose and make a significant health gain without affecting palatability. Food producers are beginning to understand this — they don?t have to go from 30 per cent sugar to zero.?

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