'Smart carb' bar brought to market

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Obesity

Canadian company Solo GI Nutrition is launching what it claims to
be the first line of food bars containing "smart
carbohydrates".

Solo's​ new food bars are low glycemic and according to the manufacturers - a subsidiary of the functional food developer New Era Nutrition - offer "a healthy alternative to the current net carb approach"​.

"Until now it has been difficult for consumers to find a carbohydrate snack or meal replacement that could fit into a low glycemic diet,"​ said Saul Katz, the company's CEO. "We are proud to be the first company to offer the public clinically validated low glycemic bars."

The bars will be available in five different flavors, namely Peanut Power, Berry Bliss, Chocolate Charger, Mint Mania and Lemon Lift, and are said to contain "good carbs"​, 23 vitamins and minerals, no sugar alcohol, no hydrogenated or trans fats, and proprietary blends of protein and fiber.

By "good carbs"​ Solo means those found in products which rate well on the glycaemic index, a method established to rank foods based on the rate of carbohydrate absorption they trigger. This way of measuring the "good" or "bad" attributes of a food is seeing increasing interest from researchers and the food industry as a way of reducing risk for obesity and obesity-related disease. More than 300 papers investigating the relatively new approach have been published in the last year.

"Science is now demonstrating that low glycemic nutrition plays an important role in body weight regulation and helping consumers manage their energy and ultimately their health,"​ said Dr. Branka Barl, Solo's chief scientist. "Making smart food choices that substitute a low glycemic food item for a high one is a step in the direction towards improved health and enhanced performance."

But Dr Julian Stowell, chairman of the Calorie Control Council​ and director of scientific affairs for Danisco Sweeteners, told NutraIngredients.com recently that he believed research into low glycemic nutrition still has a long way to go.

"For people with established diabetes, there is quite clear evidence that moving to a low GI diet is advantageous. But for healthy individuals, it is not so clear,"​ he said.

However, with the rising tide of obesity in the US, there is an ever-growing incentive to invest in new approaches to diet, and emerging evidence does appear to show that eating foods with a low glycaemic index may help people to eat less calories.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 percent of adults are overweight or obese and 13 percent of children and adolescents are seriously overweight. Each year about 300,000 Americans die of obesity-related causes. The CDC pitched the economic cost of obesity to the US at a staggering $117 billion (€96bn) in 2000.

A study published in Pediatrics (Nov;112(5):e414) last year found that children eating a low GI breakfast tended to eat more moderately throughout the day while those eating a high-GI breakfast were more likely to be hungry by lunchtime.

But intervention studies, to assess the benefits of a low-GI diet over the long-term in a larger population group will require significant resources, and means that definitive proof for the value of the glycemic index may be some way off.

However those willing to invest in low-GI foods early on will benefit the science, according to Dr Stowell.

"I think food manufacturers have a moral obligation to offer healthy foods. Even if you can't market a food by saying that it has reduced GI, if you can actually produce it and offer it to consumers, that's a start,"​ he said. "The baked goods, dairy and confectionery sectors all have something to offer."

Related topics: Health and nutritional ingredients

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