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A Quick Guide to 'Added Fibre' in Food

We’ve all heard about the benefits that wholegrains and fibre have to offer in terms of health and nutrition. But with the recent increase in the use of added fibres like polydextrose, inulin and Hi-maize in grain and dairy based foods; you may want to know a bit more about them and what they do.

What are some examples of added fibres?
•    Inulin - is a form of fermentable carbohydrate found naturally in cereals, onions, artichokes and chicory.
•    Polydextrose – is a soluble man-made fibre produced from dextrose, sorbitol and citric acid.
•    Hi-maize – is a form of resistant starch produced from a variety of maize developed in Australia.

What do these added fibres do?

Added fibres provide us with many benefits, similar to those that come with eating naturally occurring fibres found in wholegrain-based foods. Just like the fibre found in wholegrains, added fibres also improve bowel health, increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, and help to reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer. Inulin has also been shown to reduce your risk of developing heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.

Why are added fibres used?
Added fibres are frequently used to increase a products’ fibre content without changing its taste or texture. Hi-maize in particular is often used to lower the carbohydrate content and glycaemic index (GI) of products and minimise the effect that foods have on blood sugar levels. Inulin is also used to improve the texture of low fat products, making them more appealing to consumers. Hi-maize is used as a source of dietary fibre for people with coeliac disease who need to consume gluten-free fibre sources. It is also used to make a higher fibre white bread for those who don’t like wholemeal bread.

Are there any downsides to added fibres?
At high doses added fibres have the beneifit of increasing bowel regularity, however wind can be a side effect.

What sorts of foods are added fibres found in?
You will find added fibre in a range of supermarket foods including bread, biscuits, snack food bars, baked goods and yoghurt.

Should we eat wholegrains or added fibre?
Given the many benefits of wholegrains and added fibres, it is recommended that a balanced and varied diet be eaten wherever possible to ensure that you consume dietary fibre from a range of sources and fibre types.

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