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Inulin Powder is an Acceptable Fiber Fortification for a Commercial Oat Bran Muffin Mix

by Mary Barbee, Edward Callahan, Amos J. Prudhon

Most Americans do not consume enough fiber to meet the RDA of 25-35g. (1) When a typical consumer chooses a bran muffin, as opposed to other types of muffins, the assumption would be that they would be consuming a good dose of fiber.

One of the leading oat bran muffin mixes available in the supermarket contains only 1g of fiber per serving. This inquiry sought to evaluate whether a commercial boxed muffin mix could be formulated to contain more fiber without significantly altering the baking properties or consumer preference.

Methods utilized evaluated three variations on Krusteaz commercial oat bran muffin mix. The Control (C) was an unaltered preparation of the commercial mix. The first intervention variation (G) had a total fiber content of 3.8g per muffin to fall between 10-19% of RDA for fiber and qualify as a ‘good source of fiber’ (2, 3). The second intervention variation (E) had a total fiber content of 6.6g per muffin to surpass the 20% of RDA threshold and qualify as an ‘excellent source of fiber’ (2, 3).

Preliminary testing showed that inulin tended to retain more water during baking, which reduced leavening capacity and promoted a gummy mouth feel. This characteristic was offset in the intervention groups by the addition of vital wheat gluten. This research utilized a series of seven objective tests in the food lab, which evaluated leavening, texture, water content, and water loss in baking.

Five subjective tests included a random sampling of CWU students and faculty (N = 25-32). Results indicated no significant difference between C and the variations in either subjective or objective qualities, with the exception of two tests related to moisture. The objective test for water content showed significantly increased water content in only the E intervention group (p<0.05), possibly due to reduced water loss post baking, as it was not indicated in the baking water loss test.

In the subjective test for moisture perception, judges found both the G and E variations significantly more moist (p<0.01), but this perception did not alter their preference. Preference was normally distributed across all the variations and no significant difference in preference was shown, see Graph 1. The implication of this research is an indication that inulin powder, when combined with vital wheat gluten, can be an acceptable additive to commercial muffin mixes, and possibly other types of baked goods, to fortify the fiber content.

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