Dairy foods are generally not considered to be significant sources of fiber. Litesse® polydextrose from Danisco Sweeteners, Ardsley, N.Y., is a specialty carbohydrate that is 90% fiber and is ideal for use in many dairy applications. While this ingredient has been known worldwide as a premium-bulking agent for more than 20 years, it has only recently been recognized as a valuable fiber source. Recent definitions by the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association of Cereal Chemists recognize polydextrose as fiber.
Polydextrose is comprised of 90% soluble fiber and contains only 1 calorie/g as compared to 4 calories/g for typical carbohydrates. It is a non-digestible polysaccharide composed of randomly cross-linked glucose. It is highly soluble and neutral tasting, making it one of the most versatile fibers available. Its low impact on viscosity and flavor allow a significant level of fiber to be added to a product without negative sensory impact. In fact, polydextrose can even help minimize off-notes contributed by high-intensity sweeteners, soy, vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements.
Polydextrose is not digested in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and is partially fermented in the lower GI tract, making it a beneficial ingredient for digestive health. The physiological benefits of polydextrose include increased fecal bulk, reduced transit time, lower fecal pH and reduced concentration of putrefactive substances in the colon. Polydextrose’s prebiotic effects help promote growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, while fermentation in the large intestine yields short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate. Improved GI function has been demonstrated with a daily intake of 4-12g of polydextrose without adverse effects.
Another benefit to choosing polydextrose as a fiber-enriching ingredient for dairy foods is that polydextrose is metabolized independently of insulin, which makes it suitable for diabetics. A glycemic index of about 5 (compared to 65 for sucrose) makes polydextrose suitable for developing dairy products with a lower glycemic load. The glycemic index of a food is a measured response of blood sugar levels after intake. The control of blood sugar levels helps to moderate intake of food and promote satiety. Products containing polydextrose that have a reduced glycemic load are desirable for low-carbohydrate dieters.
Polydextrose is well tolerated at a mean intake of 90 g/day and 50g in a single serving with no adverse gastrointestinal effect. Thus it can be used at relatively high levels enabling fiber nutrient content claims.
In addition to the health benefits, polydextrose has multiple functional benefits in dairy products. The freezing point depression factor is 0.6 vs. sucrose at 1.0; therefore, it can protect the structure of ice cream as it inhibits sugar recrystallization and starch retrogradation. It also improves storage stability by narrowing the difference between the storage temperature and the composite glass transition temperature of maximally frozen concentrated solutions for frozen desserts (Tg’). The relative sweetness of polydextrose is practically zero so the sweetness of the finished product can be adjusted by using high-intensity sweeteners.
Polydextrose is a good choice as an economical fiber source for use in dairy products such as ice cream, frozen novelties, dairy beverages and fruit systems for yogurt. There are currently many successful products on the market that have incorporated polydextrose, where the polydextrose actually improves taste and texture. Polydextrose enables the development of products with nutrient content claims such as high in fiber, good source of fiber, reduced calorie, no sugar added, sugar free, suitable for diabetics or reduced glycemic load.