Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Nofima

Dietary fiber and glycemic carbohydrates

 Food and health  

In this research program our primary objective is to increase our knowledge on how processing can maximize the benficial health effects of dietary fiber and minimize the detrimental health effects of glycaemic carbohydrates.

Time:1. January 2013 – 31. December 2016
Financed by: Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products (FFL)

This article was last updated more than two years ago.

Contact person
Portrettbilde av Simon Ballance
Simon Ballance

Senior Scientist
Phone: +47 917 95 440

Nutritionally, there are two categories of carbohydrates; “Glycaemic carbohydrates” also known as ‘available carbohydrates’ are digested and absorbed in the human small intestine. These include starch and sugars that give rise to an increase in blood glucose. The second category is Dietary fibre which are non-digestible carbohydrates passing to the large intestine

Consumption of dietary fibre has been shown to benefit human health in reducing the risk of developing life-style diseases such as heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes. Despite this, a large section of Europe’s population consumes less fibre than the current EU guidelines of 25g/day for an adult and 10 g per day for children from 12 years – 48 months. For glycaemic carbohydrates, there is good evidence that frequent consumption of foods high in sugars increases the risk of tooth decay, and the risk of developing various life-style disease such as diabetes. New World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines published in 2015 recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 50 g (12 teaspoons) per day (10% of total energy intake). A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.

Primary Objective

In this research program our primary objective is to increase our knowledge on how processing can maximize the benficial health effects of dietary fiber and minimize the detrimental health effects of glycaemic carbohydrates. Our focus is on land-based staple foods such as wheat, oat, barley and potatoes. Correct food processing is essential for the food industry in their work to develop new healthier foods.

Method platform

In order to characterize and quantify dietary fibres and glycaemic carbohydrates in foods, ingredients as eaten, and during digestion and metabolism we need a comprehensive food processing and analytical platform. Our current platform has a comprehensive toolbox for food processing including cereal milling, dry fractionation, a well-equipped bakery and well-equipped pilot scale food production facilities. Further, we have a host of most major advanced analytical methods (not found in routine food carbohydrate analysis labs) to study the fate of food-derived carbohydrates in ingredients, foods, during digestion and metabolism. A major goal of this program is not just to maintain the methods and equipment we have, but expand our platform to encompass techniques we deem are most useful in in our goal of collaboration with the food industry and worldwide research community to develop heathier foods.

Processing technology

We aim to optimize processing technologies to make new ingredients and subsequently heathier foods with real beneficial health effects and good sensory quality. Examples of industry relevant topics we are currently working on: 1) new methods for milling and fractionation of grain. 2) Optimization of dietary fiber quality for maximized health benefits during baking 3). Reduction of mycotoxins in oats. 4) Understanding the fate of processing on the immune-stimulatory properties of certain dietary fibres. 5) The fate and effect of phenolic constituents during processing and digestion

Health effects

To quantify what comprises ‘healthier food’ we measure biomarkers for human health. These ‘biomarkers’ may be analytes in human biological samples from clinical trials with humans and animals, dietary fibers and starch in stimulated human digesta of test foods. It can also include cell-line models of the human intestine to study uptake and biological interactions related to human health. We also collaborate with other research institutes both nationally and internationally, for example, VTT, Espoo, Finland, INRA, Montpellier, France and the Clinical Research Center in Kiel, Germany. We have a major focus on the preparation of foods and ingredients for clinical testing, characterization of carbohydrate components of foods and ingredients, and in addition analysis of carbohydrates and their related biomarkers and degradation products in various biological samples.

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