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The New Miracle Foods

Satiety Builders

On the shelves: Dannon Light & Fit Crave Control yogurt; Lightfull Satiety Smoothie; Quaker Weight Control instant oatmeal; Slim-Fast Optima shakes; Special K20 Protein water, snack, and meal-replacement bars.

Claims: Helps satisfy hunger, "surprisingly filling," controls hunger longer.

Evidence: All these foods contain added protein and/or fiber. Research has shown that eating more protein can quell hunger and cut food intake. In a study at the University of Washington School of Medicine, a group of subjects doubled the amount of protein in their diet and spontaneously ate about 441 fewer calories a day, losing, on average, almost 11 pounds in 12 weeks. And numerous studies over the last two decades have linked diets high in fiber with lower body weights. But in these studies, people's eating habits were completely transformed. Just adding a bit of fiber and protein to your yogurt "isn't going to help you lose weight," cautions Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a satiety expert and nutrition professor at Penn State University. Slim-Fast Optima shakes work in a different way: These meal-replacement drinks have been reformulated so that fat digestion is delayed, which stimulates the release of hormones that send fullness signals to your brain. Early studies suggest that this new technology does work.

Shopping advice: As snacks, these fiber- and protein-enriched products are clearly better choices than cookies or chips. And if you find meal-replacement products useful, Slim-Fast Optima shakes may help get around the "hungry again in an hour" problem.

Watch out for: Exaggerated promises. Ordinary fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats probably control hunger just as well.

For Your Tummy

Supermarkets are now brimming with new kinds of yogurt, as well as drinks and cereals, that contain health-promoting bacteria or yeast called probiotics. Long popular in Europe, probiotics are just starting to take off here.

On the shelves: Dannon Activia, Dannon DanActive Immunity, Lifeway Kefir, Kashi Vive Probiotic Digestive Wellness Cereal, Stonyfield Farm yogurt/smoothies, GT's Organic Raw Kombucha tea.

Claims: Digestive balance, digestive regularity, immune system support, healthier skin and hair, decreased appetite, prevention of vaginal infections, cholesterol lowering, cancer protection.

Evidence: Microbiologists agree that the potential benefits of probiotics are enormous, but as a group of experts reported at an international conference a little over a year ago, consumers usually have no way of knowing what they're getting in the new products. "There are many different strains of probiotics, but only a few have been studied and shown to have a distinct benefit," says Mary Ellen Sanders, Ph.D., executive director of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics. "Also," she adds, "products are often labeled inadequately. They may not tell you the strain of probiotic or the levels present through the end of a product's shelf life."

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