Some of the best-known discoveries were purely accidental. One example, a water-soluble fiber (WSF) product developed in Florida, took components with established beneficial effects and combined them in a new way.
The ingredients in ProFibe--soy protein, guar gum and citrus pectin-- long have been identified as ingredients for functional foods that offer medicinal benefits to humans. The combination of these components into a tool for reducing cholesterol is the story of ProFibe.
Both guar gum and citrus pectin are WSFs, which have been researched for more than 70 years and clinically proven to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL--“bad”) cholesterol. Unfortunately, WSFs can be sticky and slimy in their natural state, making it very difficult for people to consume enough to derive medicinal benefits.
In 1993, gastroenterologist Dr. James J. Cerda and chemist Charles Burgin, after researching WSF for nearly two decades at the University of Florida, discovered that by complexing a protein to the water-soluble fiber, they could prevent the fiber from leaching out and taking on its characteristic slimy, sticky consistency.
This discovery meant people could more easily and conveniently consume enough WSF to effectively lower their LDL cholesterol.
To document ProFibe's beneficial effects, research involving nine consumers was conducted. A fasting cholesterol test was done before the subjects took ProFibe and then repeated after the subjects had taken three servings per day of the product for 30 days. The average cholesterol reduction was some 30% without a change in diet or lifestyle.
Cerda and Burgin were excited both about the prospects of ProFibe as an alternative/adjunct to prescription medications and that their patented complexing technique made it possible to incorporate ProFibe into a variety of dry foods, such as cereals, cookies and health bars.
While WSF's cholesterol-lowering benefits have been known for decades, there is evidence that water-soluble fiber also may regress soft plaque in the arteries. In the study “Grapefruit Pectin Inhibits Hypercholesterolemia and Atherosclerosis in Miniature Swine” (Clinical Cardiology, 1994, p. 595), soft plaque was found to regress by an average of more than 60% in a 40% fat-calorie diet over a period of 270 days.
ProFibe was introduced to the market in 1994. The original research continues to be validated.