Consider wheat aleurone for digestive health benefits of prebiotic fiber without uncomfortable or embarrassing side effects


 Jeffrey Casper
Jeffrey Casper
Bakery Applications Technology Leader,
Cargill Bakery Technology

Consumers want the digestive health benefits of prebiotic fiber without the uncomfortable or embarrassing side effects, such as gas or bloating. That explains food manufacturers' interest in Cargill's GrainWise® Wheat Aleurone.

Aleurone, the high-fiber, antioxidant-rich layer of the wheat kernel, ferments slowly in the colon due to the arabinoxylan and beta glucan soluble fibers embedded in a plant cell structure. This means that gas, a byproduct of fermentation, is released more slowly than with other soluble fibers—leading to less digestive discomfort and flatulence.   Arabinoxylan is known to be a prebiotic fiber.

In addition to being well tolerated, aleurone packs phytochemicals such as tocopherols, vitamins B1, B3, B9 and E and magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, zinc, iron and niacin. In fact, niacin is found exclusively in the aleurone layer.

Horizon Milling utilizes a patented cost-effective process to separate the aleurone layer from the rest of the bran (which resists fermentation). Since then, our customers have used GrainWise® Wheat Aleurone, in bakery items, bread, nutrition beverages, hot cereals and even pet food. It's an easy addition to pancakes, waffles, pasta, pizza, tortillas and snacks.

Prebiotic fibers are non-digestible food ingredients that selectively grow beneficial, or probiotic, (either bifidus or lactobacillus) bacteria in the gut. To be effective, a prebiotic fiber has to withstand digestion and arrive intact in the colon, where it breaks down by a bacterial fermentation process. If this process is too fast, it produces unwanted side effects that make consumers avoid the foods associated with them.

Digestive health is so important because it determines the ability of the gastrointestinal system to absorb nutrients and keep out harmful materials. The beneficial bacteria in the gut produce the short-chain fatty acids that supply roughly half of the energy requirements of the cells lining the intestinal wall. These fatty acids also support the immune system by reducing the pH of the gut, which promotes beneficial bacteria and prevents unhealthy bacteria from growing and causing infections.

While aleurone can be found in any cultivated cereal, wheat is the best source because of its nutritional profile and relatively low cost. It also has the mild flavor, soft texture and light color that consumers love.

While it isn't a whole grain, aleurone is 45% dietary fiber. It can be used to achieve the nutrition of a whole-wheat bread but with a lighter crumb and milder flavor by substituting aleurone for 20% of the flour in a typical white bread formula. You can get an excellent source of fiber claim when you increase that percentage to 25% n a typical whole wheat bread.

Some customers have expressed an interest in combining aleurone with Cargill's Oliggo-Fiber® inulin, which can result in a product with the nutritional benefits and easy toleration of aleurone with the soluble fiber of inulin. We agree that it's a winning combination. Seems like an excellent way of giving consumers everything they want—and nothing they don't.

Jeffrey Casper, Bakery Applications Technology Leader, has been with Cargill Bakery Technology for 4 of his 14 years in the industry.