Nutritionists recommend a daily fiber consumption of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, but most people in the United States get only half that amount.

Many of the health benefits associated with fiber consumption align nicely with the health benefits of dairy consumption, creating opportunities for fortifying dairy foods with fiber. While not all dairy foods are good candidates for fiber fortification, meal replacements, yogurt, ice cream, pudding and smoothies certainly are.

And dairy processors now may consider some new ingredients for fiber fortification. In June of 2018, FDA approved eight new fiber ingredients, adding to a list of seven such previously approved ingredients. New fibers on the approved list include mixed plant cell wall fibers (a broad category that includes ingredients such as sugar cane fiber and apple fiber, among many others); arabinoxylan; alginate; inulin and inulin-type fructans; high amylose starch (resistant starch 2); galactooligosaccharide; polydextrose; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin. Details of the new regulations and a science review of the health benefits of these fibers can be found here:


Health synergies

There are several areas where dairy and fiber have potential health synergies. While many consumers think of fiber for digestive health, FDA also recognizes fiber health benefits that include satiety, weight management, blood glucose improvement and blood pressure reduction. These benefits align nicely with the health benefits of dairy protein as part of a higher-protein diet.

Weight Management: Most meal-replacement beverages tout their protein and fiber content. ThinkThin high-protein smoothie mix, for example, claims 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber and includes whey protein concentrate and chicory root fiber.

Bone health: “Dairy products such as milks and yogurts are good sources of calcium, an essential mineral that is known to build stronger bones. A prebiotic fiber such as NUTRAFLORA short-chain fructooligosaccharide — an approved fiber — enhances calcium absorption, making a good combination to promote healthier bones,” said Ivan Gonzales, marketing director, dairy for Ingredion Incorporated.

Gut and immune health: Cultured dairy products such as yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese are often good sources of probiotics, which help promote immune and gastrointestinal health.

“Combining this with a prebiotic fiber such as our short-chain fructooligosaccharide helps to support gut health even further because the prebiotics nourish the probiotics, improving overall gut health,” Gonzales explained.


Functional benefits

In addition to health benefits, fiber delivers numerous functional benefits. These may be critical to the success of reduced-sugar/reduced-calorie dairy applications.

Halo Top ice cream was the new product success story of 2017. The brand’s vanilla bean protein ice cream, weighing in at just 280 calories per pint, contains “prebiotic fiber” to deliver 3 grams, or 12%, of the daily value of fiber.

“Chicory root fiber is an easy way to boost fiber and promote digestive health in dairy foods,” added Christine Addington, senior dairy technical service specialist, Cargill. “It also has plenty of functional benefits, adding creaminess, modulating flavor and serving as a bulking agent in reduced-sugar applications.”

Ingredion’s short-chain fructoolig-osaccharide provides sweetness, prebiotic fiber and sugar reduction when used in combination with stevia in dairy products such as yogurt and flavored milks, Gonzales said.

“It helps to round the taste profile of stevia and provides some sweetness without contributing to added sugars in the label,” he noted. “In dairy beverages, this versatile ingredient remains stable when subjected to processing conditions including pasteurization and shear.”

Functional benefits and tolerance levels will vary among fiber ingredients, but dairy formulators now have a wide range of fiber options to add to their next winning product.