Dreamfields Pasta - Is It a Hoax?

'Low-Carb' Pasta Settles a Class Action Suit

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Dreamfields pasta, referred to as "Healthy Carb Living," settled an $8 million dollar class action lawsuit for "label fraud" in 2014.

Dreamfields Uses the Same Flour as Regular Pasta

Dreamfields pasta is made of enriched semolina flour, the same flour that is used to make regular pasta. Dreamfields also contains vegetable and fruit inulin. Inulin is a type of fiber found in fruits and vegetables.

Dreamfields' Claims

The pasta maker has been under scrutiny for labels that state that the product's "patent-pending formula and unique manufacturing process creates a matrix within the pasta, protecting 31 grams of carbohydrates from being digested" and “helps limit the rise in blood sugar levels that normally occur after eating regular pasta.”

Research Data a Bit Sketchy

Dreamfields ran into a problem when failing to publish research on the effectiveness that the product had on blood sugar control. While the company purportedly had solid research to back their claims, they never published its data, which means that their research is not peer-reviewed, and scientists aren't able to try to replicate methods and compare data.

Independent Researchers Test Dreamfields' Theory

One independent study found that Dreamfields pasta did not result in an improved glucose excursion when compared with a commercially available traditional pasta product as would have been expected based on the company’s claim.

The study was done on a small sample size (~20 people), possibly skewing results, but the issue still remains -- namely, that the product is not a "low-carbohydrate" food. In fact, one serving has the same amount of carbohydrates as regular pasta.

 

My Own Experience with Recommending Dreamfields Pasta

Candidly, I have recommended this product to patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes who did not like the taste of whole-grain pasta. However, I always explained that this food product was not a "diet food," that they should still stick to one serving (about 1 cup) and, if carbohydrate counting, they should count the total grams of carbohydrate listed on the box.

Some patients saw better blood sugars using this product, while others responded the same way as if they were eating regular pasta.

Should You Stop Eating This Product?

Diabetes is a tricky disease because sometimes we find no universal truth. Everyone reacts differently to different foods, that is one of the reasons we recommend that you test your blood sugar two hours after a meal.

While I always encourage people to eat as naturally as they can, some people enjoy Dreamfields pasta and it works for them. Diabetes can be so hard that I often say, "pick your battles." If you enjoy a serving of Dreamfields pasta (~1 cup) and you continue to have good blood sugars, then keep doing what you are doing.

If, however, you've been overeating this product or waking up with high blood sugars, then perhaps you want to re-evaluate your intake.

The Bottom Line

The lesson here is that, as consumers, we need to understand nutrition labels. A company can market a promise to you on the front of the label but, unless you read the fine print, you won't know what you're really getting.

Never believe in a "magic food." Unfortunately, there is no "diet food" that you can eat endlessly without gaining weight or increasing your blood sugars. The key to healthy eating is a modified carbohydrate diet, rich in vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and good-quality carbohydrates.

What Will Change Now That They Settled a Suit?

Since the settlement, Dreamfields product remains the same, the only difference is what reads on the nutrition label.

While they eliminated the promise to reduce blood sugars, the label still says "Healthy Carb Living." It's important for consumers to understand that, although the pasta may contain more fiber than white pasta counterparts, it still contains the same amount of carbohydrates per serving (41g of carbohydrate per 2 ounces dry or 1 cup cooked).

And the fiber listed on the label is not from the product itself -- it is added. Dreamfields uses extracted fiber from vegetables and fruit -- inulin and pectin. Some research has found that high levels of inulin 10g/day may reduce fasting blood sugars. Again, this can be speculative dependent on an individual person's response.

The Significance of This Article

This is a great example of how we need to be label-savvy consumers, especially when we have diabetes.

If you have questions about labels or food products ask your Certified Diabetes Educator or registered dietitian to break it down for you.

If you were counting this product as only containing 5g of carbohydrate per serving, I caution you to stop. Instead, use the total amount of carbohydrates per serving.

Here is another great read on Dreamfields Pasta.

Sources:

Anthony, Melissa. "Dreamfields settles suit over 'low carb' pasta labeling for $8 million." Accessed on-line. June 12, 2014: http://www.classaction.org/blog/dreamfields-settles-suit-over-low-carb-pasta-labeling-for-8-million

Pourghassem, G, et. al. "Effectiveness of high performance inulin supplementation on glycemic control and antioxidant status in women with type 2 diabetes." Diabetes Met J. 2013 Apr;37(2):140-8. Accessed on-line. June 14, 2014: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23641355

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