How to boost fiber content and cut calories with a virtually invisible starch

Bill Gilbert

Bill Gilbert
Principal Food Technologist

While consumers want more fiber in their diets, they don't want it to change the taste or texture of the foods they love. Enter Cargill's ActiStar™ Resistant Tapioca, a modified food starch that boosts fiber and reduces calories in products such as cereals, breads, tortillas, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, pancakes, cakes and muffins.

ActiStar can substitute for up to 10% of total flour at a 1:1 ratio for a product to be labeled a "good source of dietary fiber" (2.5 g fiber per serving). It can achieve an "excellent source of dietary fiber" claim (5 g fiber per serving) by substituting it for up to 20% of the flour in a formulation.  Additional water may be needed if used at more than 10% of the flour.

Because tapioca starch contains more total dietary fiber than most resistant starches, you don't need to use as much. ActiStar contributes 85% fiber as you add it to a formula, while flour contributes just 2%. And, at .08 calories per gram*, ActiStar also has significantly fewer calories than flour, which has 4 calories per gram.

Fiber is highly sought-after on labels. In addition to imparting weight-management and colon health benefits, research has shown that fiber may help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, including heart disease. Because ActiStar is not absorbed in the small intestine, it also provokes a low glycemic response.

As a very highly crosslinked modified starch, ActiStar can withstand high-sheer processes such as extrusion for cereal applications and high heat for baked products. Just as important, because tapioca has the blandest flavor of all resistant starches, it will not change a food's flavor, texture or appearance.

One of our large bakery customers uses ActiStar in its line of grain-based breads for the "good source of dietary fiber" claim. Another worldwide sandwich chain wanted to increase the fiber in its white sandwich bread. After Cargill increased the fiber with ActiStar, their sensory panels could not tell the difference. ActiStar usually doesn't require formulation changes, except in applications aiming to achieve an "excellent source of dietary fiber" claim. Because ActiStar is slightly more water-loving than flour, water equaling about 1% of the total formulation needs to be added for moisture.

Cargill has the technical expertise and experience to work with your formulation and achieve your desired nutritional claim. Other than feeling confident about getting more fiber, consumers will never taste the difference.

*Calculated on the dry basis of 8 calories per 100 grams

Bill Gilbert is a principal food technologist and master baker at Cargill. He has more than 35 years of experience in the business. He learned to bake from scratch bakers in Chicago and worked for a large bakery manufacturer before joining Cargill 4 years ago.