The health benefits of fiber are many. Although benefits differ as to whether a fiber is soluble or insoluble, the benefits range from decreased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes to laxative effects and ability to more easily maintain weight.
Generally speaking, fiber is defined as plant material that is resistant to hydrolysis by the endogenous enzymes of the mammalian digestive system. That is, humans can not digest it. One soluble fiber, chitosan, is commonly derived from exoskeleton of crustaceans, such as shrimp and crabs, and is sometimes called an “animal fiber.” It is sold as a dietary supplement in North America.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pulses (such as chickpeas, beans) are excellent health foods and can sometimes be a good source of dietary fiber. However, as the food industry strives to develop better-for-you processed foods, there is interest in finding ways of enhancing the fiber content of many different kinds of foods.
Ingredient suppliers provide a broad range of products for the fortification of food. Examples include brans from the hulls of grains to other sources such as peas, fruit, sugar beet and bamboo fiber to name just a few. One commercially available sugar beat fiber, for example, contains some 73 percent TDF (total dietary fiber) in the form of hemicellulose, pectin, cellulose and lignin. Pea fiber can be over 90 percent TDF and soy fiber is typically 75 to 80 percent TDF.
When suppliers purify and modify fiber, blander, more colorless ingredients are created and the percent of TDF can be increased. For example, powdered cellulose can be up to 99 percent dietary fiber.
“New” and sometimes surprising sources of fiber are also being discovered. For example, coffee beans themselves are rich in dietary fiber. However, two Spanish researchers using a method involving enzymatic treatment plus dialysis discovered that brewed coffee (and thus potentially dehydrated instant coffee) contains 0.47 to 0.75g soluble dietary fiber per 100ml of coffee 1. This is more than many orange juices, for example.
The following chart provides ways fiber can be added to foods. The fiber from different sources all add up in a formula. Thus, while cinnamon packs a powerful flavor punch, it is more than half fiber and can contribute at least some fiber to the total fiber content of a finished product.
If anyone has other favorite ingredient sources of fiber, just let me know and I can add them to the list.
|Corn bran, crude||79.0|
|Wheat bran, crude||42.8|
|Black Pepper (spice)||25.3|
|Rice bran, crude||21.0|
|Beans, garbanzo (chickpea or bangal gram)||17.4|
|Coconut meat, dry, unsweetened||16.3|
|Oat bran, raw||15.4|
|Dates, deglet noor||8.0|
|Blueberries, frozen, unsweetened||2.7|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24 – Click here to search database
1Díaz-Rubio ME, Saura-Calixto F. 2007. Dietary fiber in brewed coffee. J Agric Food Chem. 55(5):1999-2003
Click here to see abstract