Arcadia Biosciences, Inc. has developed new wheat varieties that may contain enough fiber to qualify for on-pack fiber claims under Food and Drug Administration rules, Baking Business reports.
The wheat contains up to 94% amylose, a carbohydrate molecule that is resistant to digestion. The ingredient is a resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic, meaning it is digested slowly and feeds the so-called “good bacteria” in the gut. Ordinary wheat contains about 25-30% amylose.
The company says it is working with food manufacturers to incorporate the wheat into reformulated products to boost their fiber content, and plans to increase the number of acres planted with the wheat in the coming growing season.
The FDA recommends at least 28 grams of fiber per day for a 2,000 calorie diet. Under the agency's rules, a product must provide at least 10% of the dietary fiber daily value per serving to quality for a “good source of fiber" claim, and at least 20% to qualify for a “high in fiber” claim. Amylose-rich wheat could be used to make either refined or whole grain flour that is naturally high in fiber, meaning that even products made from white flour could qualify for fiber claims.
In the United States, wheat remains the country’s staple grain, contributing about a quarter of the calories in an average American diet. According to the United Nations, bread wheat accounts for about 20% of the calories that people consume globally. Therefore, improvements to wheat’s nutritional profile could have a big impact on health.
Arcadia Biosciences says its new wheat varieties help answer demand for more natural, clean label packaged foods that also have the health benefits of dietary fiber and resistant starch. Resistant starch is an important component of dietary fiber, and research has shown it may contribute to digestive health, protect against the damage that precedes bowel cancer, and help prevent type 2 diabetes.
For food companies, dietary fiber that is present in the grain itself means there's no need to add fiber to their products – a clear benefit for manufacturers eager to take advantage of consumer interest in fiber as well as the desire for shorter ingredient lists.