Functional carbohydrate quality matters: innovators eye “good” vs. “bad” differentiation


30 Oct 2017 --- Attitudes towards conventional carbohydrates have, and continue to, change as healthy nutrition plays a bigger part in the busy lifestyles of today’s consumers. And companies realize that the quality of carbohydrates actually do matter to consumers as people often differentiate between the different carbohydrate types, even if it’s to break them down into simply “good” versus “bad.”

The simplest form of carbohydrate is glucose. Simple sugars that are found in foods include sucrose (table sugar), fructose (found in fruit), and lactose (found in milk), and, of course, not all simple carbs can be identified as “bad.”

However, health-conscious consumers continue to understand that the types of carbohydrate-heavy food eaten does have an impact on health in terms of weight management, mood, being energized as opposed to feeling tired, satiation and general well-being.

Health conscious people expect their food to contribute to their well-being, fitness and personalized nutrition in general. And they want to utilize the role functional carbohydrates play in terms of caloric value and glycaemic response – the changes in blood glucose after consuming a carbohydrate-containing food.

And when they look at the label, carbohydrate content matters. 

Simon Waters, Global Food Starch leader at Cargill highlighted the importance of label-friendly products recently during the launch of a portfolio of functional native starches under the new SimPure brand.

“Consumers increasingly want to know what is in their food and are turning to product labels to better inform themselves,” he says, “Cargill’s SimPure functional native starches, coupled with our integrated formulation and technical expertise, will allow food manufacturers to deliver on consumer demands for label-friendly products with great taste and texture.”

Cargill’s food scientists developed the SimPure line to offer innovative solutions to difficult texturizing challenges and to get away from modified starches that historically solved these types of food processing problems. This is a direct response to changing consumer preferences as more and more people ditch modified starch. 

“As a global leader, we have the most diverse texturizing portfolio, backed by world-class formulation experts and a reliable supply chain, enabling us to create custom solutions like SimPure 99560 to address the application and marketplace needs of our customer partners,” adds Waters. “As we expand the SimPure product line, our food scientists will be creating similar ways to use familiar ingredients that provide the functional, label-friendly options our customers require.”

Functional carbohydrates 
One key player in functional carbohydrates is Beneo which supports the fact that the way and speed of delivery of carbohydrates in the body to make a difference. The company says the business is about contributing to good nutrition, with the ultimate goal of keeping people (and animals) healthy. 

Through its functional carbohydrate platform, Beneo introduces “the next level of carbohydrate functionality” with its product Palatinose. 

“Beneo functional carbohydrates are developed to help them manage their weight and their daily performance. Consumers, therefore, seek for functional carbs that can help them manage their diet, be it for weight or for performance reasons.”

Palatinose is the only fully but slowly digestible and low glycemic carbohydrate. 

“Due to the slow uptake, it provides balanced and prolonged energy, reflected by a low and steady blood glucose response curve. Palatinose is derived from sucrose and has a very mild natural taste while being kind to teeth,” is the official Beneo description. 

Its sustained energy supply and increased fat oxidation make it ideal for sports nutrition and it’s also used as a carbohydrate for powder shakes and instant formulas. 

“The intake of high amounts of high glycaemic carbohydrates (starches, maltodextrin, sucrose) seem to carry health risks in the long term. It is not only dental health, which is at stake here,” says Beneo. “Many health conditions on the increase today, such as obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases may be diet related. This is even more important as carbohydrates make up 50-60 percent of the daily diet as recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Last year DuPont highlighted the change in consumer attitudes towards conventional carbs during an interview with FoodIngredientsFirst

“We have found that the type of carbohydrates we consume will always be more important than the amount. The aim is to reduce the number of non-nutritive ‘empty’ calories to a minimum,” says Lena Hamann, Strategic Marketing Manager, EMEA, DuPont Nutrition & Health.
“Every balanced diet needs a good portion of carbohydrates, that means eating less refined white flour and sugar and more ‘good’ carbs rich in beneficial nutrients.”

“The recipe is to add more wholegrain,” advises Hamann, “Such as sprouted grains, ancient wheat types or other cereals, including oats and barley. On top of that, industrial bakeries could use some of the ancient grains that have captured our attention, such as chia seeds.”

Getting carbs from greens – prebiotic carbs
Clemson University researchers recently found that eating kale may help millions of people worldwide overcome micronutrient malnutrition. Following a study, they claim a single 100-gram serving of fresh kale can provide a significant percentage of the recommended daily intake of minerals required for the human body to function adequately.

The Clemson study was funded by a specialty crop block grant from the SC Department of Agriculture and was initiated after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies began encouraging Americans to eat more vegetables as a way to prevent mineral deficiencies and help reduce the number of people who are overweight or obese. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) few Americans eat the recommended five to six servings of vegetables a day resulting in under-consumption of several valuable nutrients and dietary fiber. Eating kale could help meet these requirements. 

“Our data suggest kale is a whole food that can provide significant amounts of daily essential minerals and prebiotic carbohydrates. We believe consumers could greatly benefit by eating kale on a regular basis,” says Dil Thavarajah, associate professor of the plant and environmental sciences department. 

Researchers concluded kale is a whole food source of essential minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese and copper. The study also determined kale is an excellent source of dietary fiber, including sugar alcohols, and range of prebiotic carbohydrates that would help to increase healthy gut bacteria. 

In addition, fresh kale is a low-calorie food (36-98 calories per 100-gram serving) with moderate levels of protein (1.6 to 5.9 grams per 100-gram serving). Thavarajah said these findings should put kale high on the list of recommended foods to eat.

“Our study found kale is a potentially good source of minerals and prebiotic carbohydrates and could be promoted for consumption in American diets based on recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee,” explains Thavarajah. 

“Because kale is such a nutritious food, we believe it could be used as a food source in areas where malnutrition is high.”

By Gaynor Selby

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