Alchemy Foodtech’s 5ibrePlus took three and a half years to develop, involving both engineering trials and human clinical studies, comprises natural plant fibres and extracts.
The novel blend has been tailored to lower the GI of carbohydrate foods without changing their taste, texture and color.
A tasteless powder, 5ibrePlus can be added to food, such as bread, or shaped into grains to be added to white rice to lower its GI to that of brown rice, while increasing its fiber content 12-fold.
The laboratory secured S$2.5m (US$1.66m) in funding last year to help fuel its development of lower GI foods and manufacturing capabilities.
War on diabetes
The new ingredient will go a long way to help with Singapore’s war on diabetes, where one in nine residents aged between 18 and 69 has diabetes – 11% of the country’s 5.7m population – thanks to an increasing uptake of unhealthy diets and hectic lifestyles.
By 2030, the number of Singapore residents above 40 with diabetes is projected to increase to 600,000.
There is no cure for diabetes, so keeping it under control is crucial.
High GI foods, such as bread, refined white rice and noodles, spike blood glucose levels quickly.
“Many people know the healthier foods they should be eating and that diabetes is a function of poor diet,” said Alan Phua, CEO of Alchemy Foodtech.
“But it’s actually doing it every single day, every single meal that makes it difficult. Giving up your favorite food – like white rice for brown rice, or having chicken rice with brown rice – these are things people find very hard to accept.
“We are well positioned to partner with food manufacturers in the region to create healthier products with the same great taste,” he added.
The laboratory has partnered bakery manufacturer Gardenia and bun manufacturer Lim Kee to develop lower GI versions of their products.
It also started a pilot partnership with restaurant chain Han’s F&B Group in January to develop a lower GI version of its fried rice.