By Christian Philippsen, Managing Director, BENEO, Asia Pacific
More and more consumers are now shifting towards a proactive approach when it comes to their health: interest in food and drinks that are known to boost health has increased significantly in the overall population — from 26 percent in 2019 to 42 percent in 2021.1 At the same time, they adopt a long-term perspective, with two in three consumers globally believing that choosing healthy food gives them control over their future health.2
For instance, in Asia Pacific, over 30 percent of consumers are aiming to cut back on sugar, salt, and fat while at the same time increasing their protein and fibre consumption in an attempt to adopt healthier lifestyles and eating habits.3 But embracing such lifestyles doesn’t have to come at the expense of giving up your favourite sweet treats. Nowadays, food manufacturers can look towards ingredients such as chicory root fibres when developing bakery products, desserts and snacks for consumers who want to stay healthy but wish to indulge every now and then.
BENEO’s chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin, and Oligofructose, are soluble dietary fibres that can be easily incorporated into a wide range of products to increase the amount of fibre while reducing the sugar or fat content. They also belong to the very few scientifically proven prebiotics that comply with the ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics) definition of prebiotics. In fact, a recently published systematic literature review with meta-analyses explored the effects of inulin-type fructans derived from chicory root based on 50 human intervention studies. The findings revealed that chicory root fibre intake (starting at 3g/day) promotes significant growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut microbiome in all age groups and improves bowel function parameters.4
Increasing Fibre, Reducing Sugar, and Fat with Chicory Root Fibres
While some very high-fibre products develop a typical cereal or wholemeal taste, inulin and oligofructose do not negatively affect the taste or mouthfeel of the end products. This means that even high amounts of dietary fibre can be incorporated into baked goods such as bread or biscuits. Moreover, Orafti® Oligofructose can ensure a longer shelf life in baked goods such as muffins or cakes by binding moisture and thus protecting them from unwanted drying out.
Concurrently, manufacturers can use Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose to reduce sugar in recipes. Chicory root fibres can be easily applied in many baked goods without requiring major, if any, changes to the recipe or processing. In addition, thanks to their texturizing properties and mild taste, they allow to maintain an appealing taste and texture of the final product. In one trial, the BENEO-Technology Center developed a cookie with chocolate chips that had a sugar reduction of 30 percent using chicory root fibres. In a sensory test, the sugar-reduced chocolate chip cookie showed no differences in sweetness, taste, and texture compared to the reference product.
Lastly, chicory root fibres can even help to reduce the fat content in products. For example, for water-based bakery fillings that also contain fat, Orafti® Inulin can be incorporated as a fat replacer. It can stabilise water into a creamy structure with a similar mouthfeel to fat. Therefore, Orafti® Inulin perfectly suits low-fat products, improving their body and mouthfeel while maintaining the same anticipated indulgence as the full-fat option. This enables product developers to replace part of the fat content with inulin and reduce the caloric value of products without compromising taste and texture.
With indulgent baked goods, it is key to maintain the appealing taste and texture of the end product to convince consumers. As they adopt healthier lifestyles and eating habits, manufacturers can look towards prebiotic chicory root fibres when developing baked goods to let consumers live a sweet life while maintaining their health.
1 FMCG Gurus, Active Nutrition Survey, conducted in 2019 and 2021 (26,000 respondents across 26 countries)
2 BENEO’s Global Consumer Survey on Prebiotics; conducted by One Inch Whale in February 2023 in France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Thailand, UK, US (N=9243)
3 Innova Health & Nutrition Survey 2021 (average of China, India, and Indonesia
4 Nagy DU, Sándor-Bajusz KA, Bódy B, Decsi T, Van Harsselaar J, Theis S & Lohner S (2022) Effect of chicory-derived inulin-type fructans on abundance of Bifidobacterium and on bowel function: a systematic review with meta-analyses. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Published 14 July 2022, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2022.2098246