Currently being featured by the manufacturer at the International Baking Industry Expo in Orlando, Sustagrain is an identity-preserved, waxy, hulless barley variety. ConAgra claims Sustagrain contains two to eight times the fiber of other whole grains, including regular strains of barley and oats. It has been found that fiber is greatly lacking from the North American diet and as such, functional food manufacturers are looking for ways to optimize fiber content in their products as a value-added means of drawing consumers to their products. "Sustagrain is a 'go to' ingredient for boosting the health benefits of foods," said Mike Veal, vice president of marketing at ConAgra Mills. "It can be used in a wide range of applications, from breads to side dishes, increasing the nutritional value of the product." The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) already has approved a heart health label claim for soluble fiber from barley foods. Soluble fiber is edible matter, often from plants, that is not absorbed by the small intestine. When it passes to the large intestine, soluble fiber can help reduce glucose absorption and diminish LDL cholesterol levels - thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and regulating blood sugar for people with diabetes. As such, ConAgra is not only looking to gear its ingredient towards heart health, but also to the diabetes market. According to the manufacturer, Sustagrain ranks lowest among commercially available grains in the glycemic index (GI) as it is high in fiber and lower in starch, and therefore beneficial for diabetics. The company says Sustagrain has applications for both whole grain and non-whole grain products. "The great thing about Sustagrain is that it can be added to foods in relatively small amounts to increase the nutritional profile of the product while still making it palatable to the consumer," said Veal. Sustagrain is available as an ingredient from ConAgra Mills, as for consumers from King Arthur Flour. As such, its fiber-boosting applications can be drawn out to include bars, baked goods, breakfast cereals, soups, pastas, tortillas, rice dishes, meat preparations, as well as beverages. Originally bred under the name Prowashonupana, branded Sustagrain contains at least 30 percent dietary fiber, of which more than 40 percent is soluble fiber. The ingredient has undergone a number of studies that have revealed its health benefits - including lowered blood glucose and insulin responses, lower absorption levels with implications for weight management, and increased satiety. In addition, the product is marketed for its antioxidant levels, with an antioxidant capacity below artichokes and blueberries, but above strawberries, raisins and spinach.