Phase 2 Starch Neutralizer, which has previously been shown to delay the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and to reduce weight, is already being used in a variety of weight loss supplements.
A recent study, presented at the Third Annual Natural Supplements Conference, now shows that the ingredient can be used to reduce the glycemic index (GI) of white bread.
And manufacturer Pharmacem Laboratories also claims Phase 2 could be suitable for use in a variety of other baked goods, such as pizza, cake and muffins, as well as in cheese, spices and sweeteners.
A water-extract of a white kidney bean, Phase 2 was tested for use in commercially available white bread, in dosages of 1500mg, 2000mg and 3000mg.
According to Pharmacen's new product development director Mitch Skop, lower GI results were achieved with the use of 2g and up.
"With the appropriate dose and formulation, the Phase 2 white bean extract appears to be a novel and potentially effective method for reducing the GI of existing foods without modifying their ingredient profile," he said.
Available in powder and capsule form, the ingredient claims to have no impact on the product's taste and texture. It may be incorporated into flour or into baked goods at different stages of production, explained Skop.
"Phase 2 coats alpha-amylase, an enzyme that digests starch. By temporarily coating this enzyme the body digests less starch, which results in a lower GI. The polyphenols in Phase 2 may also have some effect towards lowering the GI," he told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
According to Jay Udani, who conducted the study to examine the effect of Phase 2 on the GI of white bread, 3000mg of the bean extract reduced the GI of the bread by almost 40 percent, something that may spell good news as manufacturers look to develop 'healthier' products.
Originally developed over 20 years ago to help diabetics manage their condition, the glycaemic index or GI ranks foods based on their effect on blood glucose levels.
Foods with a high GI (70 and above) are digested and metabolised rapidly, triggering large fluctuations of blood glucose levels and insulin demand, while low- or medium-GI foods (40-69) are digested and absorbed more slowly, giving a slower and sustained release of energy and contributing to longer-lasting feelings of satiety.
But as science emerges showing that low-GI foods can help control weight and more certainly, help reduce the risk of diabetes and related conditions, a wider cross-section of consumers is selecting foods based on the GI index.
Phase 2 is currently awaiting GRAS status, which Pharmacen hopes it will obtain by March or April this year. Once GRAS has been obtained, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) will explore novel food status for the ingredient, said Skop. Other countries are also in the process of granting approval.
According to Skop, bakery company French Meadow is to use Phase 2 in bread and tortilla products this year. The ingredient is also currently being used by a company in Chicago, which is marketing a low-carb Phase 2 pasta product to local restaurants. A Korean company is also using it in a yogurt product, while Pharmacen says it is currently working with a number of companies to develop Phase 2 beverages, such as iced tea.
Dr Kanak Udani, who has conducted research on the use of Phase 2, will be presenting the product at this year's IFT exhibition, due to take place in Orlando, Florida, in June.
"We are looking to make this as affordable and realistic as it is effective and safe," said Skop.