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Eat more rye and oats, they’re good for you

Fazer Bakeries launched a new type of rye bread specifically designed to help reduce people’s cholesterol levels and control elevated blood pressure at the beginning of 2007, and has now followed this up with the world’s first oat bread capable of doing the same.

Rye bread is an excellent food, contributing fibre, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients, such as antioxidants and lignans. Some 16% of rye consists of fibre, the highest fibre content of any foodstuff. Five or six slices of rye bread provide over 25 grams of fibre, equivalent to an adult’s recommended daily intake. To obtain the same amount from other foods, you would have to eat over 20 heads of lettuce, carrots, or potatoes, or 1.5 kilos of tomatoes.

The fibre in rye bread keeps hunger at bay for extended periods, and the sugars it contains are absorbed slowly, which means that blood sugar levels rise slowly after eating and remain stable. A fibre-rich diet is also good for digestion and the overall health of the intestinal tract.

A growing number of studies have shown that the more wholemeal grain, like rye bread, people eat, the less their risk will be of contracting cardiovascular disease.

As rye fibre reduces the body’s need for insulin, including it in your diet can cut the risk of contracting Type-2 diabetes. Research also indicates that rye is the best fibre for helping prevent the onset of intestinal cancer, and that a fibre-rich diet reduces the risk of breast cancer in women and prostrate cancer in men.

Fazer launched its Fazer Oat Wonder in Finland in January 2008, the world’s first ‘white bread’ with a proven ability to help people reduce their cholesterol and control elevated blood pressure. The product joins Fazer Rye Wonder, launched a year earlier.

Eat more rye and cut your cholesterol

Based on findings that showed that the fibre in rye bread helps reduce cholesterol levels, Fazer decided to develop a bread aimed specifically at cholesterol reduction and mitigating elevated blood pressure .

Plant sterols, which occur naturally in cereals and vegetables, were selected as a particular area of study, as their similar chemical structure to cholesterol means that they compete with cholesterol for absorption into the body when ingested; and the indications were that a plant sterol-enriched bread would be as effective in reducing cholesterol as stanolester-fortified margarine.

After filing a novel food licence application with the EU for a range of plant sterol-enriched food products, including bakery products, Fazer received permission to introduce a plant sterol-enriched rye bread in the EU in January 2006.

Following the resolution of the technical challenges associated with ensuring the even distribution of sterols in dough and countering their negative impact on fermentation stability and the look and taste of bread, Fazer launched the world’s first functional rye bread – Fazer Ruisihme (Fazer Rye Wonder) – in January 2007.

Designed for cholesterol- and blood-pressure-conscious consumers, the product has been very well received on the Finnish market, winning praise not only for its health benefits, but also for its great taste. Work is now under way to market Fazer Rye Wonder internationally, as a ‘toast it’ product in modified atmosphere packaging with a three-month shelf life.

Eat more oats and do the same

Never one to stand still, Fazer has now turned its attention to oats and how to make more of its health benefits in the same way.

Like rye, oats have been a popular cereal crop in Finland for centuries, and oat porridge has been eaten for as long as anyone can remember. Also like rye, however, documented scientific data on the health-related benefits of oats has only been available relatively recently.

This has shown that oats have high levels of soluble fibre containing beta-glucans, which reduce cholesterol and also reinforce the body’s immune system, helping prevent illness and infection.

Oat flour is far from ideal for bread-making, however, and it is difficult to bake bread that rises well and tastes good too. In addition, beta-glucans normally break down during bread-making and lose much of their health-promoting benefits.

Fazer has overcome these problems, and developed a process that ensures that the beta-glucans in oats are retained in as virtually as high and integral a concentration in bread or crispbread as in flour – ?providing all their benefits in the end-product.

By reducing salt content and adding trace levels of magnesium and potassium, Fazer was able to develop a commercial concept capable of extending the ‘wonder effect’ to an oat-based fresh bread.

The company launched Fazer Kauraihme (Fazer Oat Wonder) in January 2008 as a sister product to Fazer Rye Wonder – offering a tasty alternative with similar benefits in terms of helping people reduce their cholesterol and controlling elevated blood pressure. This joins an oat crispbread with 3.9% beta-glucan content, launched in 2001.

Fazer Bakeries’ new Rye Wonder and Oat Wonder not only taste good, they do you good as well.
> Sampsa Haarasilta
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)