A satisfying meal can brighten your day, and wholesome nourishment can keep you happy and in excellent health. In the era of widespread fast food consumption, scientists have developed a method to transform common fast foods like pizza, cakes, and burgers into nutritious meals.
Scientists at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) have converted native starches, such as wheat, corn, and cassava, to dietary fibre that can be added to food to make it healthier without changing its texture, colour or taste.
According to RMIT University, researchers worked with Microtec Engineering Group, a technology-based engineering company that supplies starch processing equipment, to develop the starch-based product, called FiberX, which resists digestion in the human gut, just like fiber. Not only is FiberX smooth and tasteless, but it’s also suitable for fortifying low-calorie and low-GI foods, can be gluten-free, and can be added to low-fibre foods such as white bread, cakes, pasta, pizza, and sauces to make them healthier.
Project lead from RMIT’s Food Research and Innovation Centre, Associate Professor Asgar Farahnaky, and his team used advanced starch modification technology with approved food grade materials to create what they describe as ‘invisible fibre’.
“We can now add extra fibre to foods like white bread and other staples without changing the taste or texture, which has been one of the main issues with many commercially available fibre supplements to date,” he said.
“Our product is not even noticeable once added. It’s just like a parent hiding vegetables in a child’s meal to make it more nutritious.”
The health and efficiency of our digestive system can be enhanced by consuming fibre, a form of carbohydrate that is not digested in the human stomach. Additionally, it can lower the risk factors for several cardiovascular illnesses and help avoid obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Increasing the fibre content of food products by 10-20% while also maintaining pleasant taste and texture is a challenge across the food industry. Current foods with added fibre can have a tough texture or a different flavour from the original product.As part of the research, Farahnaky’s team conducted taste tests and texture analysis on bread and cakes with varying amounts of added FiberX. They found they were able to add up to 20% fibre to food while maintaining the original taste and texture of the product.
“This new technology means we can increase the amount of fibre that goes into the food so we can receive our recommended daily intake, even while consuming fewer foods, which has the potential to help with weight management and diabetes,” he said.