Technology Adds Fiber to Foods

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

Studies suggest that eating fiber is good for a person's health.It may decrease the risk of heart disease, some cancers, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, many people do not get enough fiber in the foods they eat.

Now scientists in the United States have found a way to add more fiber to foods without changing their qualities. Charles Onwulata of the Agricultural Research Service developed the technology. Agricultural Research magazine described the process.

Fiber is a material in plants. When a person eats fiber, it passes through the body without being changed much. American health experts say adults should eat twenty to thirty-five grams of fiber every day.Fruits, vegetables, dry peas and beans and grains contain a lot of fiber. Food producers also can add fiber to foods like bread and other baked goods to make them more healthful.

However, Mr. Onwulata says adding fiber to foods is difficult because it changes the qualities of the food. The fiber in food takes in water from the rest of the product. This makes the food taste drier.Mr. Onwulata says reducing the ability of fiber to hold water improves food quality and permits the addition of more fiber.

Mr. Onwulata's new process is called invisible fiber.The technology uses milk protein to surround the fiber and prevent it from accepting water. Mr. Onwulata says the milk protein protects the fiber from the water. However, this breaks down inside a person's digestive system after the food is eaten.

Mr. Onwulata and his team tested foods made with invisible fiber. The scientists made cookies and muffins with invisible fiber added.They tested the water and protein levels, hardness and color of the foods.The team then compared them to foods made with normal fiber. The report says the invisible fiber improved the quality of the baked goods.

Mr. Onwulata says the process can add fiber to many kinds of foods without changing their quality or water level.

Many companies are interested in increasing the amount of fiber in their foods to make their products healthier. American scientists also are working with industry to increase fiber levels in liquid foods.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow.This is __________.

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