Fibre in baked goods

Fibre - an innovative approach to healthier baked goods

By Nicole Maher - 1 February 2017

There is considerable evidence linking poor dietary choices to higher risks of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Foods high in fat or sugar have been targeted by health campaigners as playing a key role in the global obesity and diabetes crisis. As a result, calls have been made by government officials to reduce levels of fat and sugar in popular food products such as baked goods.

In recent years, fibre has grown in popularity as a food ingredient as it can be used to partially replace or reduce fat or sugar in baked products. It has also received good publicity due to its associated health benefits, including improved digestive health, increased satiety and helping to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Despite this, campaigns by public health authorities and other agencies have had a limited effect, since consumption of fibre-enriched bread and other baked goods remains low. Recent trials at Campden BRI have investigated the effect of increased dietary fibre content as a means of improving fibre consumption and reducing fat and sugar consumption.

Increasing dietary fibre

The term dietary fibre includes polymers such as polysaccharides, oligosaccharides and lignin. It is also associated with plant substances such as whole-grain cereals, fruit and vegetables.

Fibre compounds differ in terms of both nutritional and technological functionality. This makes it possible to gain technological benefits (e.g. sugar replacement) in certain products by choosing an appropriate type of fibre. Despite the health benefits associated with the addition of fibre to bread and baked products, there is still a reluctance to use them due to a range of technological issues. These include reduced volume, decreased dough strength, high water absorption, sticky dough, dark crumb colour and an unpleasant taste. In general, consumers prefer the textural properties of white flour products over wholegrain. This presents a challenge when developing new products, since the addition of fibre such as bran fractions is known to negatively affect texture.

With new sources of fibre becoming available and increased research into the functionality of fibre during baking, there is the possibility of developing new products to appeal to health conscious consumers without the negative perceptions of a high fibre product.

Steps in the right direction

Campden BRI trials have found that levels of fat and sugar in baked products, such as cookies and cake, can be reduced using functional fibres like alginate and inulin. It is also possible to add up to 20% fibre when making bread, although it may have some negative effects on bread quality. Other methods for improving the quality of high fibre products are currently being investigated, such as additional ingredients and treatment of wheat and oat bran.

To discuss how we can help with the effects of fibre content in your baked goods, please feel free to give us a call.

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