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6 Common Allergens Found In Sports Nutrition Bars

by in Allergies, Diet Tips, Kitchen Sink, Sports Nutrition, Wheat Free/Gluten Free, Whole Foods Diet February 19, 2009

Finding a truly healthy nutrition bar can be tough as I noted in my article, “Zing Bars Awarded Best Nutrition Bar 2008.”

I interviewed the makers of Zing Bars, nutritionists Michael Kaplan, ND, Minh-Hai Tran, MS, RD and Sandi Kaplan, MS, RD to help us better understand the common allergens found in nutrition bars.

Photobucket#1 – Gluten sensitivity is among the most common food sensitivities within the US and Europe. Gluten is a protein found within grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut & triticale. Gluten free grains include rice, corn, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth & teff.

Certified Gluten Free Oats are thought to be safe for most people with gluten sensitivity, as conventional oats are usually contaminated with wheat during processing or transport. Gluten sensitivity is a permanent condition that requires a person to avoid these gluten grains without reprieve. Gluten sensitivity can lead to Celiac Disease, and has been implicated as playing a contributing role in chronic inflammation, auto-immune disease and nutrient deficiencies.

#2 – Soy Protein is a common food allergen that is on the rise is western countries. Studies show that processed soy protein, such as soy protein isolate powder, has more allergenic potential because of the concentrated nature of the product. This is a tremendously common form of protein in nutrition bars because of its low cost. Whole food forms of soy, such as whole soy beans (and to a lesser degree tempeh and tofu) are generally better tolerated by soy sensitive individuals.

*It’s important to note that soy lecithin is not a soy protein, and therefore does not carry the same allergenic potential of the soy protein isolate powders. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier that is used to make smooth textures and mixtures, commonly found in chocolate coatings & chocolate chips.

#3 – Corn is generally found in bars in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup (discussed earlier).

#4 – Casein is a chief milk protein that is occasionally found in nutrition bars. Casein is a difficult protein for some individuals to digest and occasionally can present as a sensitivity in its own right. Casein contrasts with whey, a milk protein that is far easier to digest and is inherently low in lactose.

Photobucket#5 – Peanuts and Tree Nuts are probably the most alarming allergens on this list because of their ability to cause severe and immediate symptoms in affected individuals.

#6 – Additives/colorings/preservatives can be allergenic in their own right. While these additives remain on the FDA’s GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list, they should be avoided by anyone wishing to make the healthiest food choices.

Check back soon to find out which sports bars are best for athletes!

Authors: Michael Kaplan, ND, Minh-Hai Tran, MS, RD and Sandi Kaplan, MS, RD

Reference Citations:

1.  Mozaffarian D, Pischon T, Hankinson SE, et al. Dietary intake of trans fatty acids and systemic inflammation in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 79:606-12.
2.  Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 2006; 354:1601-13.
3.  Trans fats: The Story Behind the Label. Harvard Public Health Review. Spring 2006.
4.  Freeman J, Hayes, C. Low Carbohydrate Food Facts & Fallacies. Diabetes Spectrum. 2004. 17:137-140.
5.  Hartman E. High Fructose Corn Syrup: No so Sweet for the Planet.  Washington Post. March 9, 2008. p. N02
6.  Jenkins, D, Kendall, C, Josse A, et al. Almonds decrease post-prandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006;136;2987-92.
7.  L’Hocine L, Boye JI. Allergenicity and the soybean: new developments in identification of allergenic proteins, cross reactivities and hypoallergenization technologies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nut. 2007;47(2):127-43.
8.  Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, et al. Folate intake, alcohol use, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):895-904.
9.  Stranges S, et al. Effects of long-term selenium supplementation on the incidence of type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Aug 21;147(4):217-23.
10.  Ericson U et al. High folate intake is associated with lower breast cancer incidence in postmenopausal women in the Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Aug;86(2):424-43.
11.  Steinberg FM, Bearden MM, Keen CL. Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: implications for cardiovascular health. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Feb; 103(2):215-23.
12.  Champe PC, Harvey RA. Biochemistry 2nd edition. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1994. 112, 152.
13. Oku T, Nakamura S. Threshold for transitory diarrhea induced by ingestion of xylitol and lactitol in young male and female adults. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2007 Feb;53(1):13-20.
14.  Farschi HR, et al. Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity and fasting lipid profiles in healthy obese women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):16-24

4 Comments
  1. […] allergens: (see the next article in this series discussing common allergens found in sports bars – coming up […]

  2. 6 Common Allergens Found In Sports Nutrition Bars | Kitchen Table Medicine…

    #1 – Gluten sensitivity is among the most common food sensitivities within the US and Europe. Gluten is a protein found within grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut & triticale. Gluten free grains include rice, corn, millet, quinoa, buckwheat…

  3. I too have allergy to soy protein, rather severe one. That is why i cannot take any muscle toning supplements since nearly all of them have this in it. Excellent article there summing major issues with supplements. thanks.

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