In June 2000, the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) approved a new definition for dietary fiber. The new definition states the beneficial effects of dietary fiber, which include laxation (intestinal health), and/or blood cholesterol attenuation, and/or blood glucose attenuation.

In April 2001, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its proposed definition, stating that total fiber in a product is the sum of dietary fiber and added fiber (isolated, non-digestible carbohydrates which have beneficial physiological effects in humans). These definitions—and a new, approved Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) method for the determination of polydextrose (2000.11)—will allow product developers to include polydextrose in the total fiber content of a product.

Danisco Sweeteners, Ardsley, N.Y., offers a full line of polydextrose products that are 1 kcal/g specialty carbohydrates made from glucose, sorbitol and citric acid, under the trade name Litesse®. Traditionally used as both a sugar and a partial fat replacer, formulators may now use it as a source of soluble fiber. With a 90% dietary fiber content, it can supplement fiber content in foods and beverages. Several clinical studies indicate the beneficial physiological effects of Litesse.

Research shows that its ingestion increases the amount of beneficial microflora in the lower intestine and decreases the amount of detrimental microflora. Fermentation of Litesse by the beneficial bacteria leads to a lower fecal pH and the production of important short-chain fatty acids, notably butyric acid, which may reduce cancer risk. In addition, a recent study in rats indicates that Litesse ingestion increases calcium absorption and leads to higher calcium content in bones.

With its clean taste, high solubility and stability, Litesse is an adaptable fiber source for reduced-calorie and sugar-free products, as well as for products that improve digestive health. It is very soluble and has a higher water solubility than most carbohydrates, polyols and fibers, allowing up to 80% w/w solution at 20ºC. This influences the mouthfeel, flavor release and texture of a number of foods.

Litesse is stable across a broad pH range. In low moisture applications such as baked goods, it is very stable under normal processing and storage conditions. Litesse solutions have a higher viscosity than sucrose or sorbitol at equivalent concentrations and temperatures, and behave as Newtonian fluids. This enables it to provide the desirable mouthfeel and textural qualities when replacing sugars and fats. It also acts as a humectant and helps maintain the softness, freshness and shelf-life of food products.

Since it does not crystallize at low temperatures or high concentrations, Litesse can be used to control the crystallization of polyols and sugars and, therefore, the structure and texture of confectionery products. It can replace sugar and some fats in frozen dairy desserts and baked goods.