February 8, 2011

Study Finds Dreamfields Pasta Produces Identical Glucose Curves as Regular Dry Pasta

UPDATE: The study referred to in this post was retracted by its authors and is no longer available online. The reason for the retraction was NOT that the data was wrong or that the study was misleading, but "because some of the data were obtained prior to receiving IRB [Institutional Review Board] approval."

Since it is not likely that the institution the authors of this study work retracted the study because of the horrifying ethical violation implied in forcing innocent volunteers to eat pasta—IRBs are set up to protect the public from unethical research—it’s likely someone did not have the deep pockets needed to withstand a lawsuit launched by the manufacturer of this profitable product that costs more than twice as much as regular pasta.

I have long been suspicious of the claims for Dreamfield's pasta that all but three grams of the over-50 grams reported on the label somehow mysteriously dissappear due to some magical process they refuse to describe. Now a report in this month's journal, Diabetes Care confirms I was right to be suspicious.

Here's the study:

Glycemic Response to Ingested Dreamfields Pasta Compared With Traditional PastaFrank Q. Nuttall et al.Diabetes Care January 26, 2011 vol. 34 no. 2 e17-e18. doi: 10.2337/dc10-1957

Here are the relevant graphs:


This study was done with subjects who did not have diabetes, however the significant and prolonged average blood sugar spike seen in the first group, suggests it contained someone (or two) with less "normal" blood sugars than would have been indicated by their fasting glucose test. The results make it clear that in thse study subjects, Dreamfields was metabolizing into glucose at the identical rate as cheap dry pasta.

Now mind you, the 50-some grams of carbohydrate in regular dry pasta does hit the blood sugar a lot more slowly than does bread of potatoes, which is why those dreadful diabetes magazines you find at your doctor's offices are full of pasta recipes.

But while dry pasta is a better choice than Froot Loops, as the curves on these graphs make clear, the carbohydrates contained in pasta trickle into the blood stream for hours after you eat. In people with Type 2 who still have a significant amount of second phase insulin response left, the trickle might be slow enough that you won't see a pronounced spike, but all that glucose will have to be metabolized--and most of it will turn into triglycerides and eventually be stored as body fat.

The data in this study explain to me why there are such varying reports within the diabetes community about whether Dreamfields does what the company claims it does, with some saying it works for them, and others reporting that it causes prolonged high blood sugars. Obviously, the people for whom Dreamfields works are still secreting enough second phase insulin to cover the long slow tail it produces.

But if Dreamfields does work for you, this study stronlgy suggests you could get the same effect from eating $.99 store brand pasta as you could eating the much more expensive Dreamfields. Just cook the regular pasta for the 9 minutes that Dreamfields suggests. Cooking any pasta longer than that will makes it digest more quickly.

Two last things:

1. Only cooked dry pasta metabolizes slowly. Fresh pasta--the kind you buy in the freezer section or at some fancy italian restaurants--is made with regular flour, not the more semolina flour that contains resistant starch. Fresh pasta digests very quickly and you will see a much larger spike after eating it.

2. The label portion size for a serving of pasta is tiny. Measure out 2 dry ounces on a cooking scale and cook it and you'll see what I mean. The serving of pasta you get at a restaurant is anywhere from 3 to 6 label portions. Since that very small 2 ounce portion contains over 50 grams of carbohydrate, the restaurant servings are anywhere from 150 to 300 grams. And that's without the "low fat" high carbohydrate sauce dumped on top.


Brenda Bell said...

"...the carbohydrates contained in pasta trickle into the blood stream for hours after you eat... the trickle might be slow enough that you won't see a pronounced spike"

Though I'm wondering if the reason we're not seeing spikes or high postprandial numbers is because we're checking at 1-hour, 90-minutes, 2-hours when the peak comes at 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours -- especially when we have overindulged (I recently addressed this on my dLife blog.

Jenny said...

Brenda, That's a very good point.

There are some people with Type 2 who are still making insulin slowly, and they won't see a spike at 4 or 5 hours. That is something that was discussed a lot on the old alt.support.diabetes newsgroup and quite a few people tested at longer intervals.

But it's also very likely that that the reasons dietitians are so enthusiastic about pasta for people with diabetes is because the only testing on it, like that idiotic "Glycemic index" testing done was done after an hour and didn't take into account the area under the curve.

The graph that accompanies the study discussed in this post shows the area under the curve very nicely.

Unknown said...

You are such a gift to me and to this community. Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us. I am amazed at the wealth of information you provide for us.

William Houser said...

Hi Jenny, I guess this would explain the erratic readings at supper after Dreamfeilds with dinner.I don't eat pasta that often but I am surprised I didn't see the connection. I have been using Tova's Carbalose flour for some time with seemingly great results.Is there any research on it that you have seen?

Jenny said...


I haven't seen any experiments with Carbalose flour. My own experience with it and CarbQuik, which is made with it, is that it performs as advertised. I use it for waffles ad biscuits. The texture of the result is different enough from the real thing to suggest that they are high protein which would explain the lowered carb count.

michael plunkett said...

Thank You Jenny, I never had success with this product, thanks for setting the record straight

Unknown said...

Great post - thank you! Once the high-priced Dreamfield in my pantry is gone, I'll go back to the cheap stuff. The cooking less time is a good tip, too :)

Robert Rister said...

I'm a type 2 with very little insulin production, and I also have gastroparesis. I find that 100 g of Dreamfields barely nudges my post-prandials if I eat if for dinner, but then I'll have 350 mg/dl the next morning. Ditto sorbitol-sweetened desserts, only even more slowly, sometimes the surge showing up 36 hours later. Deadly stuff.

Thanks for posting this--and so much else.