New products: higher fibre, fewer calories From May 2020

New products: higher fibre, fewer calories

Increasing the proportion of dietary fibre in products could help deliver health benefits – both by increasing fibre in the diet and by reducing the number of calories the product contributes to the diet. Senior bakery scientist Lucas Westphal is leading a member-funded project exploring this. It aims to provide an understanding of the functionality of dietary fibres, identify potential new sources of fibre and determine which fibres perform best in certain products – all of which could create ways to reduce calories and, of course, increase fibre.

Currently halfway through the project, Lucas and his team are investigating three different food products – a pizza, a flavoured drink and a vegan burger – to explore the different challenges these products will pose.

Reduced calorie pizza

Lucas took the ‘marginal gains’ approach to reduce a pizza’s overall calories. First applied by professional cyclists who looked at shaving weight from all bike components, as opposed to focusing on the heaviest parts, Lucas used the marginal gains approach to reduce the calories from each of the pizza’s components, from the base to the topping. Each component needed to be reformulated in a way that didn’t impact the taste or texture too heavily. Fat, as the most calorie-dense ingredient, was partially replaced with various fibres (e.g. pea and citrus fibres for the meatball topping). Water was then added but only if they didn’t create additional issues for that component - such as a shortened shelf-life or a less favourable texture.

Using this approach, they were able to lower the meatball’s calories by 20%. The research also found suitable replacement ingredients for individual foods in ways that will reduce the impact on taste, such as replacing the calorie-dense oils of a tomato sauce with tomato fibre.

Fibre-enhanced flavoured drink

Following consumers’ growing interest in increasing the fibre in their diet, the team has begun investigating the technical challenges surrounding the development of a flavoured drink high in fibre The team aim to develop a drink that could carry fibre, for example, using fibre derived from guar beans – which is stable at a low pH and high temperatures (crucial during pasteurisation).

Consumer acceptance ultimately determines the potential success of any product, so our sensory and consumer scientists will investigate whether consumers can detect the added fibre, both when the drink is flavoured and un-flavoured.

Vegan burger calorie reduction

The project is also looking at vegan products – some of which can be high in calories due to (saturated) fats. So, another aspect of the project is to develop a calorie-reduced vegan burger – to assess an approach to the development of meat-free alternatives.

Overall, this work, combined with previous experience of reformulating products with more fibre and fewer calories, will enable us to better help food manufacturers responding to the drivers for reduced calories and higher fibre products. Previous work ( explored the use of fibre from butternut squash peel (that would otherwise have gone to waste) to increase the fibre in tortilla wraps.

To find out more about this project, get in touch with Lucas or visit the project website. Results will be made available for members in a report later this year.

Contact: Lucas Westphal
+44(0)1386 842241

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