Fiber plays an important role in the human diet. It impacts digestion and offers a number of additional health benefits. In addition, fibers can bring functional properties such as water-binding or fat-binding, and most fibers are clean label. All these factors combine to make dietary fiber a popular food ingredient today.

Different types of fiber

Though they often serve similar purposes regardless of source, there are several distinct kinds of fiber. Typically, scientists divide them into two main categories: soluble fibers and insoluble fibers.

As the name suggests, soluble fiber dissolves in water, taking on a gel-like consistency. In Europe the most common soluble fibers are oligofructose and inulin. Inulins are naturally occurring polysaccharides and are typically extracted from chicory root. In addition to Inulin or oligofructose, other commonly used soluble fibers include polydextrose, soluble corn/wheat fiber and resistant dextrins. They are used for fiber enhancement, bulking and for adding mouthfeel to sugar reduced beverage systems.

The other type of fiber, insoluble fiber, does not dissolve in the stomach. Instead, insoluble fiber adds bulk and aids in the movement of material through the digestive system, making it beneficial for people who struggle with constipation and other digestive issues. This type of fiber comes from plant sources such as wheat, oat, bamboo, peas and soy.

Some high-fiber foods contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, while other contain just one type. Some fibers, such as beta-glucans come in both soluble and insoluble types. These polysaccharides occur most commonly as bran in cereal grains and cellulose in other plants.

Demand for fibers in food

As studies have revealed the important role that fiber plays in a healthy diet, demand for dietary fiber in food products has grown. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the USA recommend a daily fiber intake for women of 25 gram and for men of 38 grams of fiber.[]

However, most adults consume significantly less than the recommended daily fiber intake. In response to growing demand for healthy foods, some manufacturers began adding dietary fiber to their food products, and consumers have started to use these products to fill the nutritional gap in their diets.

Applications for dietary fiber

The reasons for using fiber can be split into two categories: health and technical reasons. The latter can influence the texture of the product through the water- or fat-binding capabilities of the fiber. Enriching a product with fiber serves for a healthier option which can also be used as a claim on the finished product.

Dietary fibers are used as an ingredient in many products, including:

  • Bread and baked goods
  • Cereals
  • Confectionary (hard candy)
  • Dressings
  • Functional beverages
  • Ice creams
  • Sauces
  • Yoghurt
  • Fiber supplements


Please check carefully the laws and regulations applicable for you. Please keep in mind that you are responsible for compliance with any applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

Get in touch

If you have any questions about potential applications for added fibers, contact Brenntag Food and Nutrition. We would be happy to help you determine the best product for your application.

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