Studies have shown that the average American only consumes about half of the recommended amount of 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily. This deficiency, combined with consumers’ growing awareness of the health benefits of consuming certain types of fiber—better digestive health, lower cholesterol levels, weight loss support and enhanced immune function—is helping to boost fiber’s profile as a functional ingredient for foods and beverages. And the fact that a high-fiber diet is increasingly linked to better overall health and disease prevention doesn’t hurt either.
And while forms of soluble and insoluble fiber are readily found in natural foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, active, on-the-go consumers are looking for convenient, portable ways to boost their daily fiber intake.
While the fiber-fortified beverage market is still relatively small, beverage developers see a lot of opportunity for growth. While the idea of fiber in a beverage may still call to mind powdered drink mixes like Metamucil or thick, nutritional supplement-type drinks, advances in ingredient technology now enable beverage scientists to add significant levels of fiber to a range of mainstream beverages, from juices to enhanced waters.
Elevate Fiber Water is a fiber-enhanced flavored water available in the U.S. market and it offers three grams of soluble fiber per 8-ounce serving, or six grams per bottle, which is about 24 percent of the recommended daily value, according to Jose Lazoff, president of Puerto Rico-based parent company 9-12 Corp.
At 25 calories per serving, Elevate comes in natural lemon and orange flavors. Lazoff says the company uses a corn-based fiber to add a healthy amount of fiber while still maintaining a clear, good-tasting flavored water.
“We developed Elevate in house and it was quite challenging to develop. We did not want to add any coloring to this product,” Lazoff says. “So, it took about four years to develop with finding the correct type of fiber, as well as the other ingredients, to keep the product clear and offer the purity of water, but eventually we were able to achieve our goal.”
Another novel fiber-enhanced drink called Froose is targeted to kids ages 1 to 6. Froose Brands CEO and founder Denise Devine is also a mother who was worried about her child’s health and worked to develop a drink that provides the healthy nutrition that kids need with a focus on whole grains and fruit.
Froose contains three grams of dietary fiber, with a combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber, per 4-ounce container and comes in flavors Cheerful Cherry, Playful Peach and Perfect Pear.
The insoluble fiber comes from organic whole-grain brown rice, while inulin provides the soluble fiber.
Devine says the company has a patent on the process it developed to put whole grains into a smooth, palatable, non-gritty beverage.
“There’s a lot of know-how and art to this,” she says. “Flavor is key. We won’t put a beverage out unless it tastes great.”
Traditionally, dietary fibers have been hard to work with in beverage applications because fiber often negatively affects the flavor, mouthfeel, color and clarity of a drink. But ingredient companies have improved the stability and processing capabilities of dietary fibers.
Soluble corn fiber has become a popular ingredient option to boost fiber content in a beverage. Tate & Lyle’s Promitor soluble corn fiber can be incorporated into RTD beverages without changing the taste or texture, according to Adrienne Pohrte, food scientist, Specialty Food Ingredients with Tate & Lyle.
“Promitor soluble corn fiber has excellent pH, temperature and chemical stability and soluble corn fiber also is a prebiotic dietary fiber, so it promotes digestive health with minimal to no gastrointestinal side effects,” she says. “It can be used with anything from a clear water product to a CSD to a juice or dairy product.”
ADM/Matsutani markets the Fibersol line of soluble corn fibers. Fibersol-2 AG is an agglomerated form ideal for drink mix and “stick pack” applications, while Fibersol-LQ is a liquid dietary fiber containing 75 percent dietary fiber and a little added sweetness. Fibersol-HS contains fiber combined with the sweetness of natural honey and purified stevia.
“Fibersol is extremely stable, maintaining fiber content during high heat processing and in low pH conditions,” says Zachary Gooding, product development scientist for ADM.
Jayesh Chaudhari, senior formulation scientist at Fortitech, says inulin, a soluble, prebiotic fiber often sourced from chicory root, is a popular choice for functional beverages as it has proven health benefits while having good solubility and minimal impact on taste and beverage clarity, and can even be used in clear, enhanced waters. Cargill’s Oliggo-Fiber inulin is one branded form of the fiber ingredient.
The versatility of fiber ingredients allows for unique functional drink options. Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager of Nutrition at Ingredion, Inc. says the company’s Purimune ingredient, which is a galatoologosaccharide, or a prebiotic fiber found in breast milk, has been used in functional shot-type drinks targeting immune health. Other ingredients include its Nutriose fiber, which works in high and low acidic pH drinks as well as dairy drinks and its Nutraflora prebiotic fiber, well suited to dairy and dairy alternative drinks like soy milk, says Luchsinger.
“Dietary fiber ingredients have become more versatile in the last four to five years,” he says. “A beverage manufacturer or ready-to-drink manufacturer can choose from a wealth of dietary fibers, with specific functionality and application strengths coming from a variety of different sources to fulfill the perceived needs of the target consumer.”