Foods with Fiber Boost
Formulation challenges when increasing fiber content in food product development
The demand from consumers to increase fiber content in foods and beverages has become nearly as loud as from healthcare professionals. Yet the resultant cascade of formulation challenges when upping fiber in a familiar or standard formulation can be compounded by consumer complaints related to numerous negative results in taste, texture and other organoleptic qualities—or worse, digestive comfort—as well as stability and shelflife changes. These negatives can be common occurrences that accompany many of the familiar fibers.
The areas that have been hardest hit by the challenge of increasing fiber without affecting taste, texture or causing unpleasant side effects include cereal, bars and dairy.
For bars and cereals, one challenge encountered was not necessarily to increase fiber content but improve a bar with existing fiber content. The manufacturer requested that the original formulation maintain its existing, effective amount of gluten-free fiber, but sought changes to improve taste issues.
It had been difficult to increase fiber to required levels (to state a “good” or “excellent” source of fiber on the package), without adding extra calories, altering taste and texture or creating unwanted digestive side effects. It also was a challenge to increase fiber while maintaining a gluten-free label.
In this case, there had been customer complaints about such digestive concerns in the original formula. It was easy to replace the inulin in the original bar formulation with partially hydrolyzed guar gum (Sunfiber PHGG), thus making it possible to attain both objectives, while additionally having minimum cost impact for the client.
In collaborating with food manufacturers, Sunfiber PHGG demonstrated a capacity to readily incorporate into everything from bars and cereals to dairy products. This is because it has a way of minimizing aftertastes associated with high-intensity/zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia. Consequently, the need to actively mask any unwelcome taste attributes was virtually eliminated.
Partially hydrolyzed guar gum is becoming the go-to solution, as processed food formulations and culinologists seek ways to satisfy the increasing demand for fiber without harming brand or formula. For solving common current formulation issues within bars, cereals and dairy products, as well as sweetener-related issues, the ingredient has been applied in other applications as more aspects of its versatility compared to other types of fiber come to light.
Because of its low viscosity, Sunfiber PHGG doesn’t alter taste, texture or mouthfeel. It is stable in low pH environments and product developers and manufacturers are usually surprised to learn that the partially hydrolyzed guar gum actually improves the final product, and delivers more benefits to consumers than other fiber types.
Partially hydrolyzed guar gum has other important attributes not shared with all fibers. It is a prebiotic, feeding the probiotic bacteria in the g.i. tract and provides them with a better environment in which to thrive. Partially hydrolyzed guar gum slightly lowers intestinal pH, transits slowly in the gut and ferments for a longer and slower period, feeding and enabling friendly bacteria to grow.
While most every available fiber recommends a challenging 10g or more to achieve desired efficacy, evidence confirms that just 5g of Sunfiber PHGG is highly effective for improved digestive health.
Another advantage to using Sunfiber PHGG versus certain other fibers is that it also works well in high-protein bars and cereals and energy-performance products. This is because it doesn’t interfere with the utilization of proteins and mineral absorption.
Another challenge in boosting fiber was to introduce more fiber into dairy products without altering the mouthfeel and pH environment. This happened especially with yogurt formulations. Most fibers end up degrading in low-pH conditions, thereby making them inappropriate for yogurt applications.
One interesting development was that, when used alone or in combination with milk protein in yogurts, Sunfiber PHGG also provides satiation effects for many hours, making it an ideal snack for limiting intermittent appetite and helping to reduce the extra calorie intake.
Sunfiber PHGG is stable at low pH levels, making it an ideal fiber solution for yogurt. Sunfiber PHGG also offers stability of fiber content without interfering with the pH-sensitive probiotics in yogurt applications. Another interesting fiber involved a high-fiber ice cream. Concerns with crystallization make adding fiber to ice cream a concern.
When an ice cream manufacturer requested an increase in the fiber in its product from 0.5g/100g to 7g/100g, the team was instructed to maintain the original formulation’s low-sugar and low calorie status. And, since ice cream is such an indulgent treat that relies on specific parameters of taste and texture, it was important to do this without altering those qualities.
Here again, Sunfiber PHGG made for a ready solution. The consistency of Sunfiber PHGG enables it to dissolve clearly in liquid without altering texture or taste of a product. By simply replacing the existing fiber in the formulation (inulin) with Sunfiber, customer requirements were easily met, again without adding unwanted negative effects that some fibers might contribute at such levels.
The demand from consumers for tasty, low-calorie, low-sugar snacks, sweeteners and chewing gum is high. However, many artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners, such as stevia, have substantial aftertaste. Some consumers also have a difficult time digesting added fructose and non-nutritive sweeteners (e.g. certain polyols) that can cause uncomfortable digestive issues.
Reformulation with Sunfiber PHGG proved in these cases to effectively reduce the negative aftertaste that is often present when using sweetener alternatives, while improving mouthfeel of the finished product.
Beverages turned out to be surprisingly accepting formats for boosting fiber with partially hydrolyzed guar gum. One beverage manufacturer had an issue with bitterness and negative afternotes of a stevia-sweetened beverage. In this case, the Sunfiber helped to mask those bitter after notes—and still maintained the “low calorie” and “all-natural” status of the formula Adding Sunfiber PHGG allowed the development of a product that was able to maintain a sweet, clean flavor, while satisfying the request for an all-natural, low-sugar and low-calorie drink with high fiber content.