Increasing fibre and reducing sugar

With growing consumer awareness and demand for products with ‘added fibre’ and ‘reduced sugar’, fructose and Litesse are ideal ingredients for use in many culinary applications, without compromising on taste and flavour.

In 2004-05, more than half of all Australian adults, or 7.4 million people, were either overweight or obese, an increase from 5.4 million in 1995. Obesity is linked to lifestyle factors such as increased consumption of foods with high levels of sugar and saturated fats, as well as a reduction in physical activity. People with obesity have an increased overall risk of premature death, as well as a higher relative risk of developing type two diabetes; cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease; osteoarthritis; various cancers such as colorectal, breast, uterine, and kidney; and other health conditions.

The total cost of obesity in 2005, to the Australian government and society, was estimated to be $21.0 billion. In an attempt to curb the rising rate of obesity, the Australian government is currently promoting the ‘Working Together for a Healthy Active Australia’ campaign. The campaign provides guidelines and recommendations about nutrition and physical activity, allowing Australians to make better lifestyle choices and lead healthier lives.

As the cause of obesity is generally considered to be the consumption of high energy dense diets and a sedentary lifestyle, a reduction in energy density can be useful in aiding weight loss or helping weight maintenance. Strategies such as increasing the fruit, vegetable and cereal content of the diet can help lower the energy density. Alternatively, the use of low calorie bulking agents and dietary fibre ingredients can be considered.

Fibre is an essential part of the human diet and contributes to our overall well-being. Fibre-rich diets may help to reduce the risk of obesity, colon cancer and heart disease; and reduce the occurrence of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis and other digestive disorders.

It is recognised globally that most diets are fibre deficient, because the actual daily consumption of dietary fibre is short of that recommended by various healthcare professionals and authorities. It is recommended that Australians eat at least 30g of fibre per day, whilst in reality most Australians currently only eat around 20g of fibre each day. However, Australian consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the health benefits of food and more selective with regards to their meal choices.

Developing Opportunities

Consumers are not only spending more on eating inside the home, but outside the home as well. Between 1985 and 2006 expenditure on food in Australian households increased annually by 10%, whereas expenditure on food consumed outside the home in restaurants, etc increased by 30% per year.

This comparatively large increase is consistent with consumers opting for ‘out-of-home catering’ in response to their reduced availability of time, social implications and greater spending capacity. Opportunities therefore exist for food manufacturers and retailers to provide consumers with a positive eating experience both in the home and out of the home, that will have a positive impact on their overall health.

New products developed with low, no or reduced sugar and added fibre claims are appearing every day around the world in a wide range of food applications. As consumer demand grows, products with claims associated with health and wellness are being developed for food categories such as soups, sauces, seasonings and condiments. New product launches around the world in the last three years have concentrated on no additives and preservatives, and low, no or reduced fat because they are most popular. This trend has also been seen in the table sauces and dressings categories, as well as the dry and wet soup categories.

What ingredients can Danisco offer?

In developing new products or reformulating existing one, it is important to consider the ingredients used. These will obviously have a strong influence on the taste and texture of the final food product.

Sucrose is a standard ingredient used to improve the flavour perception, increase the sweetness and to add bulk, whilst improving the mouth feel. There are, however, several alternatives to sucrose. For example, monosodium glutamate and yeast extract can be used to enhance the flavour perception,; and high intensity sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame K, and sucralose can be used to increase sweetness without adding calories. However, a poorer mouth feel in the final product may result. Bulking agents such as polydextrose can also be used to compensate for the loss of mouth feel. Fructose, also known as fruit sugar, is also used to replace sucrose.

Fructose and sucrose are both sugars (defined as mono- and di-saccharides), and both contribute an energy content of four kilocalories per gram. However, as fructose is the sweetest sugar in nature, being up to 30-40% sweeter than sucrose, less fructose can be used to achieve the same level of sweetness, resulting in a calorie reduction. Another health benefit of fructose, which is of increasing interest, is its low glycaemic index of only 19, compared to sucrose at 657.

Fructose may also be used as an alternative to sucrose because of the impact it has on the flavour profile. For example, fructose enhances the flavour of fruit more than sucrose; fructose also enhances the flavour of vanilla, coffee and cinnamon. In culinary applications, fructose can be used to modify the tomato and herb flavour in tomato soup or tomato sauce. The level of fructose used will change the flavour perception of the herbs and tomato. In spicier sauces, such as chilli sauce and tom yum sauce, fructose can work to enhance the spiciness.

As well as its excellent sweetening and flavour-enhancing qualities, fructose has the ability to mask the unpleasant tastes of some other ingredients. Fructose is easily dissolved in water and can therefore be readily formulated into any type of soup, sauce or seasoning product. Fructose reduces the water activity of the product even more so than sucrose, making fructose a better preservative than sucrose at similar concentrations.

Sources of dietary fibre are low in energy and can be used as a nutritional tool to reduce calorie content whilst aiding satiety. Low calorie bulking agents such as Litesse polydextrose can help to lower the caloric density of products, with the goal of helping consumers ingest fewer calories whilst maintaining the texture and taste of a standard product. It contributes 1 kcal/g8 and is particularly suitable for formulating a wide range of products, including culinary applications. It can replace sugar and help reduce fat in many applications, but with significantly less calories.

In physiological terms, Litesse has a negligible effect on blood sugar levels and is metabolised independently of insulin, contributing only one quarter of the calories of sugar. In most major countries around the world, including Australia, Litesse has been recognised as a valuable source of dietary fibre for many years. Typically, it can be used at high enough levels in culinary applications so that fibre claims are possible. Litesse enables the formulation of nutritionally enhanced food products by replacing the bulk and functionality of sugar. It is pH and heat stable and is highly soluble and neutral tasting. Its low impact on viscosity and flavour allow a significant level of fibre to be added to a product without negative sensory impact.

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