Bridging the fiber gap

February 19, 2024

More than 90% of both the European and US consumers do not know what the recommended daily intake of fiber is. More and more consumers are aware that they need to increase their fiber intake to fill the gap between the recommended daily intake and their actual intake. Most of them might find it difficult to do this by increasing food products that are well known for their high fiber content, like fruit, vegetables and whole meal products. For this group of consumers, food products with added fiber will provide a convenient and easy way to increase their fiber intake.

Intake and recommendations

Dietary fiber is included in nutrition guidelines because of its positive health effects. The guidelines for dietary fiber intake vary across European countries and range from 25 to 40g per day for adults. The British Government, French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, and the German Nutrition Society recommend a daily intake of 30g per day. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends ingesting 25g of fiber each day.

However, on average, intakes for adult men in Europe range from 18 to 24g per day and from 16 to 20g per day for women, with little variation from one European country to another and all below the recommended daily intakes.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, written by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommend 14g per day of fiber for every 1000 kcal ingested. This translates to 28g per day for adults. Americans also consume too little fiber, typically about half (15g) of the recommended daily amount. There is a serious fiber gap in the Western world.

Reaching the daily recommended intake would require a substantial change in dietary habits for many individuals. For example: 5 grams of fiber equals 12 spoons of rice, three apples, or two slices of whole meal bread. However, increasing dietary fiber consumption provides an opportunity to lower the overall caloric intake while providing additional health effects such as lowering blood glucose levels and supporting cardiovascular health.

Fiber enrichment of food products

Depending on the type of food, adding fiber to the recipe might be challenging to develop products with a pleasing taste and texture. Insoluble fiber provides physical particles often with high-water binding capacity. This might help to stabilize the food products, but when (too) high levels are added it can negatively affect the texture and mouthfeel. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, does not have the disadvantage of introducing physical particles into the formulation.

Some soluble fiber has additional benefits for food applications as well. For example, chicory root fiber, with its slightly sweet taste, can act as a sugar or fat replacer as well as increasing the amount of fiber. Depending on the type of food application, the best choice of insoluble fiber, soluble fiber or even a combination of both can be made. The choice can be based on the technological functionalities of increasing fiber, as described, but also on additional nutritional benefits such as sugar and/or fat reduction.

Team up with our experts to discover the possibilities of chicory root fiber for your products!

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