A new micronutrient- and fiber-packed bar that improves metabolic health markers from cholesterol to blood sugar to inflammation is now on the market. The new bar is based on a unique formula developed by scientists with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).
This patent-pending fruit-based bar formula, fortified with micronutrients, fiber, and other ingredients that improve gut health, has been licensed to Advanced Micronutrition LLC of Orlando, Florida. The bar is now being marketed as the Healright Micronutrient Bar.
Each bar has 8 grams of fiber, so 2 bars per day provide 16 grams of fiber, intentionally formulated to be about half of the recommended total daily dietary fiber of 25 to 30 grams a day. The average U.S. diet has about 15 grams of fiber a day.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals needed in small amounts by the body for best health and they should come from a balanced diet. Unfortunately, many people's diets do not include sufficient micronutrients and fiber for their metabolism to function optimally.
"The idea behind these bars is that they could fill in the micronutrient gaps in the typical diet and diminish the impact of deficiencies on metabolic health," explained Tara McHugh, food technologist and director of the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California.
In clinical studies of the formula done by ARS and CHORI (now a department of the University of California, San Francisco), people who ate two of the bars a day for eight weeks without being asked to make any other changes in their diet or exercise had improvements in cardiovascular health (cholesterol, triglycerides, diastolic blood pressure and heart rate), insulin resistance, obesity indicators (weight and waist circumference) and others.
"We saw metabolic markers shift significantly in positive directions in both lean and overweight or obese groups," McHugh said.
Examples of specific improvements in the overweight/obese test group included:
* Waist circumference decreased 0.71 inches. Waist size indicates if a person is carrying too much belly fat, which can raise the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke.
* HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol increased, while triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells, decreased.
* Insulin resistance decreased 0.6 and insulin dropped.
In designing the bar recipe, McHugh and her team tested 72 different formulations and 45 flavors, paying meticulous attention to the levels and combinations of micronutrients selected by the CHORI team as well as the calorie content and ensuring the bars were tasty. Advanced Micronutrition further refined the taste of the original bar and has added several ingredients to further benefit gut and heart health.
McHugh also pointed out that "Because we were so precise about the bar's composition, we can easily change it in future studies as a scientific tool to study the mechanisms by which individual dietary components in a complex dietary mixture interact with each other and with the human metabolism. This type of detective work can be virtually impossible to do in human trials with a complete diet."
Read the study: https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1096/fj.15-271833