The healthy lifestyle revolution continues to evolve with better-for-you alternatives, cleaner ingredients and functional food options. This includes fiber-rich food and beverages—presented in updated, innovative, and convenient ways—that offer various health benefits.
These days, the quest to live a healthy lifestyle is made a little easier with the many food options that allow for better and cleaner choices. From meat-free meat and CBD-infused drinks to probiotic elixirs and lab-grown dairy, wholesome food and beverages are only becoming more inventive.
Gaining attention over the last few years are fiber-rich ingredients that have been added to beverages, savory dishes, and even desserts. Getting the recommended dose of dietary fiber isn’t limited to just fruits and vegetables but through other forms like grains, nuts, and seeds that were not creatively explored previously.
From soluble, insoluble or even prebiotic, fiber is essential mainly for digestive tract health as it helps food pass through the intestines easier. Fiber also prevents fats and cholesterol from being absorbed into the blood, which could prevent heart ailments and even diabetes. In addition, a newer take on fiber intake is how it helps speed up metabolism or weight loss by aiding appetite control. When taken through food or beverages, fiber helps aid satiety, which could subsequently lead to eating less.
While fiber-rich food may be a staple in many healthy diets and can easily be found in salads and other plant-based dishes, F&B companies, cafés, and restaurants, are presenting inventive ways of incorporating fiber-rich ingredients into their culinary offerings.
Chia seeds, for example, have become a common add-on to beverages and baked goods like loaf breads. Chia seeds are rich in nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, and of course fiber. In June 2019, Starbucks launched a APAC region-wide beverage called the Watermelon and Lychee Aloe Frappuccino. The refreshing drink, ideal for the hotter months of countries like the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand is made with “watermelon blended with chia seeds. It’s layered with floral lychee-infused whipped cream and rejuvenating lychee aloe dice” as described by the brand. While their promotion does not convey the benefits of the added seeds in the beverage, more brands are giving their products a wellness and even premium slant by enhancing them with this superfood.
Bubble Tea chain Chatime created a series with Chia Seeds as its star ingredient. Launched in the Philippines for the summer season, the Chia-rrific Fruitea Fusion features the flavorless superfood as an added element to its fruit tea concoctions. Not only is the drink refreshing; the chia seeds are said to provide an added boost of energy while providing that feeling of fullness or “cravings satisfied” sensation.
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This same concept was applied to Coca-Cola Plus, the fiber-infused Coke beverage launched in Japan back in February 2017. Filed under Japan’s Food of Specified Health Use (FOSHU) category, Coca-Cola Plus is “a no-calorie beverage [that] contains five grams of indigestible dextrin—a source of dietary fiber—per 470-ml bottle. Drinking one Coca-Cola Plus per day with food helps suppress fat absorption and helps moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood after eating,” according to Coca-Cola Japan’s official press release. This particular product was also launched to lure health-conscious consumers to still enjoy soda.
Two innovative soda beverages from Japan are also following suit. Introduced in September 2019, Taiyo’s Sunfiber Cola “is the first FODMAP-friendly sugar-free cola to combine the flavor of cola with the satiating effect of fibre,” shares Beveragedaily.com. It is targeted as a weight-loss soda enriched with the fiber from guar beans. This natural ingredient is said to be scientifically proven to help with appetite control.
The second RTD beverage, Kale Sour by Mitsubishi Shokuhin, is an alcoholic cocktail infused with kale juice (from Kale provided by skincare and dietary supplement company FANCL Corp) and lemon juice, and contains 4% ABV. Kale is said to be rich in vitamins and minerals, and provides 6.4g of dietary fiber. This beverage is positioned to supplement regular diets with the vegetable intake it commonly lacks.
While milk and oats make for a convenient breakfast beverage, this grain-infused milk by Pasteur in South Korea combines seven types of grains in its convenient twist-cap packaging. Aside from being a breakfast-on-the-go option, this drink promotes gut health through its 2,500 mg of dietary fiber.
Also rich in grains, Kumori, a Japanese bakery chain popular in the Philippines, introduced in January for the New Year, a line of “healthy” breads that contain various fiber-rich grains. The Tomato Chia Roll is a tomato-flavored bun topped with chia seeds instead of sesame seeds; the Multi-Grain Corn Roll is a traditional Japanese corn roll topped with seeds and grains like chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds; the Maize farm bread is an artisanal loaf also infused with grains.
Dessert café The Ais in Malaysia created their version of Quinoa Chocolate Cake. The gluten-free cake is high in protein and fiber through the quinoa used as a flour substitute.
Indo-European restaurant Toast & Tonic in India, meanwhile, introduced a flax seed-encrusted fish dish accompanied by shimeji mushrooms, barley and wheat berry sauté, broccoli, zucchini and fresh heirloom salsa during their New Year offerings.
So what? While countries around the region like the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea are embracing these fiber-rich superfoods and ingredients as healthy additions to their offerings, Japan’s unique and innovative food concepts are currently leading the pack. Not only are they creating products that are distinctive, combining both flavor with health benefits, their products are easily accessible, affordable, and convenient, making fiber-rich food and beverages available to all.