SunChips and Dreamfields Pasta: Are the Marketing Claims Really True?
Claims: From Dreamfields: "Lose weight by eliminating the crash-crave cycle. ... What makes our pasta different is our patent-pending formula and unique manufacturing process that protects all but 5 grams of carbohydrates from being digested." The manufacturer claims that Dreamfields pasta helps limit the rise in blood sugar that normally occurs after eating regular pasta, and that it has a 65 percent lower glycemic index than regular pasta. They also claim that it contains a natural probiotic fiber, inulin, shown to improve digestion and support a healthy immune system. "The Dreamfields fiber and protein blend creates a protective barrier to reduce starch digestion in the small intestine. The unabsorbed, or protected, carbohydrates then pass to the colon where they are fermented, providing health benefits like fiber."
Ingredients: Enriched semolina (semolina, iron), and B vitamins (niacin, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), inulin (vegetable fiber), sorbitol, wheat gluten (plant protein), xanthan gum (food fiber), pectin (fruit fiber), potassium chloride.
Nutritional Information: (2 ounces) 190 calories, 1g fat, 41g carbs, 5g fiber (3g soluble, 2g insoluble), 1g sugar, 7g protein.
Facts: The pasta is a good source of fiber and protein, and "being a lower-GI food can potentially make this a good replacement for regular pasta, which does not contain much fiber, for those who need to control their blood sugar -- but they still need to eat a controlled portion since a high-calorie meal of any sort can make insulin levels spike," says Zied. This pasta also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, each of which, according to Zied, has its own health benefits (soluble to help lower cholesterol and insoluble to aid digestion, promote bowel function, prevent constipation, etc.).
Fiction: "The claim of 5 grams of 'digestible carbohydrate' is tested using the manufacturer's own research methods, and the term 'digestible carbohydrate' is not currently recognized by the Food and Drug Administration," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Also, this food has almost the same calories per serving as all other pastas (190 calories versus 210 calories). So even with the possible fiber benefit, according to Blatner it may not be any better for weight loss. All you have to do is take a look at a 100 percent whole-grain pasta, which has 7 grams of fiber and is about 180 calories per 2 ounces -- that's 2 more grams of fiber and 10 fewer calories.
Concerns: Diabetics should still use this in moderation, like all other pasta, says Blatner. The key with pasta or any refined grain is to minimize portions. Also, it contains sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, which can have a bloating, gassy effect on some people.
The Bottom Line: "This pasta sounds too good to be true, but it does contain a healthful combination of protein and fiber that fills you up. But pasta is still high in calories," says Zied. And again, Blatner reminds us that this is not whole-grain pasta, "So you won't get the health benefits associated with whole grains."
Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, founder and editor of DietDetective.com, the health and fitness network, and author of The Diet Detective's Calorie Bargain Bible. Copyright 2008 by Charles Stuart Platkin. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission from www.dietdetective.com, September 2008.
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