More specific information on dietary fibre

1.12.2014

<p>The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira is the first Nordic authority to introduce an analytical method that determines all the constituent parts of dietary fibre covered by its definition. A wider use of the method is important in order to produce comparable results on dietary fibre. The results of Evira’s analysis project will be published in 2014 and 2015 in the Finnish Food Composition Database, Fineli.</p>

The analysed results will be published divided into fractions of fibre by water-solubility and size in order to provide research, education, health care, risk assessment, food industry and citizens with as specific information as possible.

The analytical method is based on the definition of dietary fibre adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which develops harmonised international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice.

The introduction of the new analytical method by Evira has aroused great interest in the other Nordic countries. In other European countries, the method is already used by several laboratories.

Even the smallest components of dietary fibre can be determined

Dietary fibre can be long-chain or short-chain. It is resistant to digestion and absorption in the human small intestine. Dietary fibre includes cellulose and other plant components that are indigestible in the human digestive system.

Insoluble and soluble, long-chain dietary fibre can be determined by weighing, while short-chain dietary fibre can be determined by chromatography, a method used in the identification, separation and quantitative analysis of compounds.

“Short-chain, very small components of dietary fibre are called oligosaccharides. They can be found in rye, for example. Determined with this more specific analytical method, the total dietary fibre in rye has proved to be higher than previously,” says Helena Pastell, Doctor of Food Sciences, Senior Researcher of the Chemistry and Toxicology Research Unit.

Dietary fibre offers many health benefits

Dietary fibre has been shown to have many health benefits. Insoluble fibre, such as cellulose, normalises bowel movements by increasing stool bulk and promoting its movement through the system. Soluble fibre lowers blood serum cholesterol levels and limits increases in blood sugar levels, among other things. Fibre that degrades slowly in the large intestine protects against bowel cancer.

“Oligosaccharides, in particular, increase the growth of beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the large intestine. It is also important to remember that a product can be promoted as a high-fibre product if it contains at least six grams of fibre per 100 grams of product,” says Pastell.

According to many studies, Finns should add more fibre to their diet. The current recommended fibre intake is 25 grams per day for women and 35 grams per day for men.

Evira’s research project on dietary fibre relates to a project funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry that decides at the national level what foods and components will be updated in Fineli.

Read more: 
Codex Alimentarius
Fineli   
National Findiet Survey 2012 (abstract in English)
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s press release on the update of Fineli (in Finnish)

For further information, please contact:

Senior Reseacher, Doctor of Food Sciences Helena Pastell, tel. +358 50 375 0968

 

 

 

 

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