Formulating Fiber into Foods and Beverages

Various natural organic cereal and whole grains seed in wooden bowl for healthy food ingredient product concept.
Researchers have found fiber in brewed coffee

Using a specific analytical procedure, Spanish reseachers have found soluble fiber in coffee. Depending on testing procedures, perhaps dehydraded coffee can be a source of fiber.

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.

Ingredient Percent TDF
Corn bran, crude 79.0
Cinnamon, ground 53.1
Wheat bran, crude 42.8
Chia seed 34.3
Cocoa, powder 33.2
Flaxseed 27.3
Black Pepper (spice) 25.3
Rice bran, crude 21.0
Bulgur, dry 18.3
Beans, garbanzo (chickpea or bangal gram) 17.4
Coconut meat, dry, unsweetened 16.3
Oat bran, raw 15.4
Onion powder 15.2
Oats 10.6
Almonds, blanched 9.9
Beans, pinto 8.6
Dates, deglet noor 8.0
Pumpkin, canned 2.9
Quinoa, cooked 2.8
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

— Claudia O’Donnell, Global Food Trends, a conference and seminar organizer service

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