By Melissa Althen
Filling Up on Fiber
This past year the International Food In- formation Council (IFIC) polled con- sumers on the most sought-after
potentially beneficial food component. The
number one response was dietary fiber (DF).
The study also found that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of
Fiber has been linked to regularity for
some time, but more and more consumers
are now learning about its many other benefits. At the forefront is fiber’s role in satiety
and maintaining a healthy digestive system.
The perception that weight control can be
achieved through a “miracle pill” diet is shifting toward a holistic acceptance that healthy
weight must be part of a regimented lifestyle
change that includes eating whole foods rich
The Institute of Medicine recommends
people consume between 19 and 38 grams of
fiber per day, yet people are still only eating
roughly half the recommended amount. Even
while eating a well-balanced variety of nutritious foods, it can be difficult to consume the
amount of fiber a body needs. Herein lies the
opportunity for product developers to create
fiber-enriched foods that deliver added fiber
while maintaining top-notch flavor.
Organic foods already have a leg up on
conventional foods when it comes to fiber
content. Naturally occurring fiber is often lost
due to over-processing during refining.
Organic foods, however, are minimally
processed, preserving more of the food’s inherent nutrients.
The Lowdown on Fiber
The American Association of Cereal
Chemists (AACC) defines fiber as “the edible
parts of plants or analogous carbohydrates
that are resistant to digestion and absorption
in the human small intestine with complete
or partial fermentation in the large intestine.”
According to the AACC, dietary fiber in-
cludes polysaccharides, oligosaccharides,
lignin and associated plant substances. These
are naturally found in foods such as legumes,
grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
Grains continue to be the predominant
source of fiber in the U.S. food supply. To put
fiber content into perspective, Table 1 on
page 18 represents the amount of fiber in
standard servings of common whole foods.