The approach we suggest here focuses on two groups of components that can be analyzed using available methods.
The ingestion of starches can have a variety of effects depending on the plant source, cooking conditions and the individual's digestive tract. These variations result from interactions in both the upper gastrointestinal tract and in the colon and are not necessarily a consequence of chemical differences that are easily identified. Evidence that small amounts of "resistant starch" may have effects on gastrointestinal function and metabolism is important but this is just one aspect of a spectrum of effects originating from the same chemical entity. Information on these effects is not yet sufficient to include recommendations with respect to different starches and should not be of concern for the purpose of food labeling at this time.
Because high carbohydrate diets containing foods high in starches and dietary fiber can have beneficial health effects, the most useful and practical position at present for the purposes of labeling is to identify starches and dietary fiber separately. This approach to simplifying the definitions, analytical and labeling issues would facilitate healthy food choices by the consumer.
Products enriched in non-native or novel fiber sources also have a place in the market and may have benefit for particular segments of the population. Thus, the only justification for enriching foods in these materials should be the clear demonstration of beneficial physiological effects and not simply the artificial inflation of total carbohydrate and dietary fiber values.
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