Danisco sponsors research on dietary fibres

By Annie Launois

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Danisco

Food ingredients, sugar and industrial bioproducts firm Danisco is
sponsoring a professorship in healthy dietary fibres, which could
help to develop foods with health-promoting benefits.

Danisco is investing DKK 10m (€1.34m) over a five year period into a professorship to concentrate on developing new techniques for finding solutions for producing highly specific complex dietary fibres, also known as carbohydrates. According to Danisco, the research will help to better understand how carbohydrates influence our health. The professorship is connected to the activities of the Centre for Advanced Food Studies (LMC) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. In a market driven by increased consumer demands for healthy products, food companies all over the world have invested large amounts of money in recent years on both researching and marketing the healthy effects of their products. Recent research by Mintel's Global New Product Database (GNPD) show that most new bread and bread product launches over the past two years (2005-2007) have been positioned in the health and wellness category. Dietary fibres, both in soluble and insoluble forms, increase the nutritional value of food products. They provide about 50 per cent of the average energy intake and play an important role in metabolism. According to Danisco, fibre regularises bowel function, attenuates glucose absorption and, in some cases, has been shown to have a positive influence on serum cholesterol. Adding fibre to foods and beverages has therefore become a common trend all over the world as companies focus on finding new sources of dietary fibre as functional ingredients. An ever increasing number of bakery products, such as wholegrain bread and oatmeal biscuits, that contain soluble dietary fibres, have been developed and marketed as value-added products. However, despite the mounting evidence for the benefits of dietary fibre, according to Danisco, fibre intake remains much lower than the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of approx 30 g per day. Therefore, the company sees a large potential for further uses of dietary fibres in food. Dr Leif Kjargaard, CTO at Danisco A/S, told Bakery and Snacks: "It is still too early to discuss the applications of the research in the food sector. We foresee that the research into the use of carbohydrates has a lot of potential for the bakery and snacks sector as well as other areas of the food industry." ​ Because the professorship has just been launched, Dr Kjargaard could not tell exactly which carbohydrates the research would be focussing on. "It could be plants, seaweeds, and micro-organisms,"​ he said. Jørn Dalgaard Mikkelsen, who has been appointed for the professorship, confirmed that, at the moment, the research will concentrate on prebiotics and will aim to improve the knowledge of the impact of beneficial carbohydrates on health and nutrition, especially on the gut system. "There may be scope for other health applications, such as the use of fibres to induce satiety, but this is not the focus of the research,"​ he continued. Jørn Dalgaard Mikkelsen is currently looking for additional external funding from Danish foundations and European organisations to extend the research team.

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