Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dreamsfield Pasta

On various discussion forums and blogs, I have seen discussions about Dreamsfield pasta. Recently one of my readers asked me to try it. I looked up the label for their spaghetti and replied that it was too high in carbs (37 net carbs). He said that only 5 g. was digestible. The label reads per serving:

"Total Carbohydrates 42 g.
Dietary Fiber 5 g.
...Soluble Fiber 4 g.
...Insoluble Fiber 1 g."

Now, anyone used to counting net carbs can quickly determine that 42 minus 5 is 37 net carbs per serving, right? So, then how come the front of the package claims 5 g. per serving? If you read the ingredients, you'll find that this product contains sorbitol, a sugar alcohol. I advocate following the American Diabetic Association's recommendation of calculating net carbs by counting 1/2 of the sugar alcohols as this is how much is digested on average. But, given that the label does not tell us how many of the carbohydrates come from the sorbitol, it is difficult to tell what the true effective carbohydrate count is!

It is likely that the sugar alcohol count per serving may be 32 (that is 42 total carbs - 5 fiber - 5 "net carbs"). If this is the case, I would calculate the effective carbohydrate count of one serving to be 21 (that is 42 total carbs - 5 fiber - 1/2 of 32 sugar alcohols). There is a huge difference between 21 net carbs and the 5 net carbs claimed on the package.

I personally feel that any product that boasts a low net carb count by excluding ALL of the carbs from sugar alcohols are intentionally being deceptive or else demonstrate the ignorance of the manufacturer. I abhore this practice as their claims could seriously hurt or kill some diabetics.

Now, the dreamsfield website does claim a glycemic index of 13, which is lower than normal pasta. So, it's not necessarily a bad product. I am unsure of how this relates to the true net carbohydrate count. But, it does mean that they are trying to be at least somewhat sensitive to people who need to keep an eye on their insulin. But, I still don't buy the claim of only 5 net carbs. What I am saying applies not only to their pasta but also just about every low carb product on the market that contains sugar alcohols.

A good fact sheet about sugar alcohols can be found on the following web site: http://www.ific.org/publications/factsheets/sugaralcoholfs.cfm. On it, they say:

An American Dietetic Association publication recommends that persons with diabetes managing their blood sugars using the carbohydrate counting method 'count half of the grams of sugar alcohol as carbohydrates since half of the sugar alcohol on average is digested.'

There is also a good article on http://www.lowcarb.ca/tips/tips010.html about sugar alcohols and their affects on low-carb dieters.

In August, 2005, Dr. Eades (co-author of Protein Power) posted a blog entry regarding sugar alcohols (http://www.proteinpower.com/drmd_blog/?p=8). In the blog entry, she stated:

"Our sort of ballpark standard means of calculating their effective contribution to a low carb diet, crude at best, is to count as usable about one-third to one-half of the sugar alcohol grams in a recipe or food. For instance, say the nutritional label of a protein bar proclaims 20 total grams of carbohydrate, 5 of which are fiber, 3 of which are starch and 12 of which are sugar alcohols. The label will likely state--usually in a big red or yellow starburst--contains only 3 grams net carb! Really? Depending on which sugar alcohol(s) contributed those 12 grams, some portion of them will be absorbed to contribute calories at the very least and raise blood sugar in sensitive individuals at the very worst. And, of course, what's not absorbed contributes to the gastrointestinal symptoms that occur with some of them. It would be more correct (not to mention more prudent for people struggling to lose weight and for the diabetic population) to count at least 4 and possibly 6 of those sugar alcohol grams as having an effect, for a total of 7 or 9 net grams. Just doing that little bit of math may help keep your weight loss going or your blood sugar in better control. "

There is another problem with Dreamsfield Pasta having sorbitol. This is that sorbitol has some rather nasty side effects. I haven't seen an actual Dreamsfield Pasta box up close. Can anyone tell me if it warns of diarreah or other side effects caused by the ingredient sorbitol?

Wikipedia has this to say about Sorbital:

Sorbitol can be used as a non-stimulant laxative by either in oral suspension or suppository form. The drug works by drawing water into the large intestine, thereby stimulating bowel movements.[2] Sorbitol has been determined safe to use in the elderly. [3]


Ingesting large amounts of sorbitol can lead to some abdominal pain, gas, and mild to severe diarrhea. Sorbitol can also aggravate irritable bowel syndrome and fructose malabsorption.

So, now you know my opinion. And, this is why I have not tried the pasta. I typically avoid sugar alcohols. There are a few products with them that are in my diet. I calculate my own "net carbs" and ignore the claims on the front of the package. As a matter of principle, the few of these products that I do allow in my diet come in packages that do not hide behind questionable claims and that clearly state the laxative effects. They don't seem to have a laxative effect on me, personally. So, this more of a matter of principle in supporting only companies that are honest and upfront with their consumers.


Sparky's Girl said...

This pasta has no warnings about the laxative effect on the box at all. I've eaten it several time with no problem. I've even lost weight while eating it. That being said, it's a YMMV (Your Milage May Vary) thing, so everyone should test it for themselves. I've heard some people find it raises their blood sugar. How does it taste? You wouldn't know the difference between it and regular pasta. It's a nice alternative when you want pasta.

Anonymous said...

I wish the pasta didn't affect me like it doesn't affect Amy--she's lucky, man!
I've gained weight in the past whilst using the Dreamfields products; she's right, I can't tell the difference between this stuff and the real stuff, but unfortunately, again, as Amy says, "your mileage may vary", I can't even ingest lower carbohydrate pasta--I'm extremely insulin resistant :-(
Good post!

Linda said...

I control my diabetes with diet and when I try a new food I check my blood sugar before and numerous times after I eat it to gage if I can have it or not. Dreamfields has neither raised my blood sugar nor stalled my weight loss. It is definitely a YMMV thingy though. So whatever voodoo Dreamfields does to its pasta - it works for me. In fact, I feed it to the entire family.

Big Daddy D said...

Linda, I hear you that it doesn't cause a significant peak in your insulin. But, does it stall a diet?

They claim that this product has a low GI. This would mean that the carbs are absorbed more slowly over a longer period of time. So, the 21 (not 5!) net carbs are still metabolized although they are metabolized more slowly. This means that your insulin peak would not be as high but the impact would last longer.

Your body still metabolizes the carbs and they could potentially still be stored as fat and burned as fuel. The difference is that because of the low GI, it doesn't hit you all at once.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Thanks for the insight. My husband and I are often left scratching our heads over the discrepancies on labels.

We eat this product and have had no problems, either gastrointestanally nor weight gain. But I think I know why... we never eat what is referred to as a serving. We actually eat half a serving and that's plenty. A half serving of the spaghetti makes a mounded plateful. The same is true of their elbow macaroni. I always measure out what Dreamfields refers to as two servings, knowing that it will mean four. I have compared serving size on many products while low-carbing, and find that I rarely eat what is considered a serving of anything.

This pasta has been a life (translate mood)-saver for me. I am a carb addict, and when I can't stand it anymore, I'll fix some Dreamfields. I've tried every low-carb pasta on the market, and the healthy whole wheat carb ones, Dreamfields beats them all.

Carol Bardelli said...

I always wondered how they could 5 grams instead of 37! I tried it because Jimmy Moore raved about it but it irritated my colitis. My husband and son still eat it though. But they don't watch carbs.

I prefer replacing pasta with mozzarella. Taste 100 times better.

Anonymous said...

I doubt it has a large amount of sorbitol in it. If you read lot of labels you see there is sorbitol and other SAs in a lot of non low carb things in smaller amounts and for different reasons.

They say that it is low carb because they have some secret way they make it that it doesn't digest the same way as regular pasta. It affected me the same way regular pasta does ie, my BG rose the same amount, maybe it took a little longer and stayed up longer and it made me crave pasta the same way.

porter family said...

My husband and I have been eating Dreamfields at least 2-3 times a week since we began low carb in February. The serving size is enormous - as previously stated. The key, as I understand it, is to cook it only the time allowed in the instructions. Cooking it longer destroys the special properties that keep the carbs from being digested. We have lost about 75 pounds together without any stalling. My 3 and 5 year old boys eat this without any upset tummies also. I don't know what we would do if we didn't use Dreamfields. We eat Mac and Cheese a lot. I can't tell the difference between this and regular pasta. Hope you'll try it. Your life will never be the same.

Linda said...

No Big Daddy, it didn't stall my weight loss and when I check my blood glucose with a new food - I check it hourly for up to 4 hours or more afterwards. I feel I need to clarify my endorsement of Dreamfields somewhat though. I'm very careful what I eat and even though we love it - I only fix it a couple time a month AND I weigh it carefully. The recommended serving is 2 oz and I pretty much stick to that. If a dish I'm making serves four - I use 8 oz. So I'm not eating it with great abandon LOL. Pasta was one of my great favorites in high carb days and to know that I can still have it a couple of times a month without hurting me diabetic or weight wise - makes me a happy camper.

Good web site, by the way and I've tried several of your recipes with success. Keep up the good work.

Porter Family said...

Here's part of the article I read before adding Dreamfields to our diet:

Dreamfields Pasta still includes 42 grams of total carbohydrates, he says, but 37 are rendered non-digestible by a “fiber blend” process for which a patent is pending.


Low Carb Band-It said...

I think the "lesser" carbs has more to do with the fiber process, than the sorbitol. If it were that sweet, wouldn't it taste sweet?

Also, my pre-diabetic husband gets NO spikes from it and my diabetic mother does. So YMMV is definately true.

As for weight loss. We eat is only on occasion. Normally when a recipe calls for pasta I use 1/2 of what they say and when we eat it as say "spaghetti" with sauce on it, I seriously eat 2oz (recommended serving size is 5oz). Since we only eat it occasionally we haven't had any types of weight loss stalls whatsoever. My teenage daughter has lost almost 50lbs and she subs it instead of the regular pasta in the box of Kraft Mac/Chs.

Jah Frog said...

it has very minimal amounts of sorbitol - the carb "savings" come from the way that the wheat in the product is process to "wrap" it with a non-digestible or slowly digested fiber (inulin). So it likely is a low GI type product.

From the many posts on this issue on other sites, it seems about half of folks have problems (insulin spikes) eating this and about half don't. It may have to do with what other foods you eat it with, and thier fat/protien/fiber content, or simply the vast difference in how each individual processes carbs.

Gluttonynomore said...

I personally haven't used Dreamfields pasta. I use Shirataki noodles and love them. Several of my Diabetic friends have use that LC pasta and found minimal blood glucose rise on the first time when they eat it right after cooking, but leftovers seemed to give a higher rise. Maybe the gluten develops as it sits, who knows?

Emily said...

This pasta has no information about the laxative effect.My friend eaten it ,but he didn't say any problem about it.