Hydrocolloids: Gum control in a low-carb world
Formulators turn to hydrocolloids for their useful functional properties without contributing to "net carbs."
The focus on incorporating fiber to create low-carb foods has raised the profile of hydrocolloids as a healthful alternative to simple and glycemic carbs. Their characteristic colloidal interaction with water is unique for each kind of hydrocolloid and further depends on their source, chemical makeup, physical structure and even size. Simple alteration of various aspects of their physical properties has helped create a wide range of functionalities for processors.
"Gums are soluble dietary fiber, so they fit well into low-carb diet plans," says Frances Bowman, marketing manager at TIC Gums. "While hydrocolloids still contribute to the total carb count of a food, they help reduce the 'net carb count' by providing approximately 85g soluble dietary fiber per 100g with fiber accounting for all of the carb content."
"Beverages and soups offer excellent avenues for enhancing the dietary fiber intake of consumers -- especially for food companies wishing to capitalize on the new low-carb and fiber-hungry market segments," says John Foraker, president of Home Grown Natural Foods (www.homegrownnaturalfoods.com
), Napa, Calif. With its twin brands of Fantastic Foods and Consorzio, the company did exactly that by incorporating hydrocolloids to roll out Carb'Tastic soups, a line of reduced-carb cup soups that have been wildly successful.
Is low-carb just a fad? While the flurry of new-product activity may be slowing, the legacy of the low-carb movement will be a greater awareness of healthier choices.
Consumers are actively removing simple carbs from their diets and consuming more fiber as a result. The future is promising indeed for the hydrocolloid industry.Kantha Shelke is a principal at Corvus Blue LLC, a Chicago firm that specializes in competitive intelligence and expert witness services. The firm helps businesses and professional organizations in the health and wellness sector to focus on what matters most. Contact her at email@example.com or 312-951-5810.
|Hydrocolloid strategies for carb reduction|
Growth in sugar-free sweeteners, bulking agents and specialized texturizing agents has been fueled by the term "net carbs." The term was made popular by the marketing efforts of the Atkins Net Carbs Seal and denotes the number of grams of carbs that will convert rapidly to blood glucose.
Hydrocolloids play into carb reduction in a number of ways:
* Eliminating sugar -- Hydrocolloids can help replace the water-binding and bulking properties of sugar that has been removed to make low- and no-sugar foods. High-intensity sweeteners present new stabilization issues because they are typically used at low levels and generally leave water "unbound." A number of hydrocolloids can provide stabilization by inhibiting moisture migration and controlling syneresis.
* Replacing starch -- Native and modified food starches are becoming more popular because of the wide variety of functional properties they provide. Non-starch hydrocolloids offer versatile starch replacement solutions and can help retain shelf-life and texture characteristics without the variable glycemic effects and cost implications often associated with newer resistant starches.
* Enhancing dietary fiber -- Hydrocolloids do not typically contribute significant fiber because they are used at low levels and they serve mainly to control water. In low-carb formulations, however, low-viscosity hydrocolloids can be used in amounts sufficient to provide substantial levels of fiber. An added benefit comes from the ability of some hydrocolloids to delay gastric emptying. The resulting extension of the feeling of satiety can help reduce hunger and help reduce an individual's food intake.
* Enhancing taste -- A variety of ingredients -- including protein, high-intensity sweeteners and modified starches used to fill the void left by the removal or reduction of starch and natural (glycemic) sugars -- tend to bind flavor and often alter the taste of low-carb foods. Hydrocolloids are typically bland and serve as innocuous bulking agents that can also help reduce usage levels of added flavor ingredients.
"Hydrocolloids can be the perfect choice for low-carb product development as they not only improve product texture and stability, but also contribute dietary fiber and a low glycemic response," according to Jim Carr, hydrocolloid expert at Excelon Specialty Products Inc. (www.excelon-inc.com), Lake Bluff, Ill.