So I had to go to the drugstore to pick up a few things and I noticed little bags of sugar-free Jelly Belly jelly beans! Cool! I love Jelly Belly (Except for the buttered popcorn ones! Eeeeew, I don't understand how people can eat those!) so I picked them up on a whim without looking at the package carefully. 80 calories for 35 beans. Pretty good!
They look benign enough, right?
Then there is the warning label:
Um, what?!!! I thought that jelly beans were basically just sugar and I figured these would just be sugar substitutions. I looked at the package and saw that 35 beans have 8 GRAMS OF FIBER!
That seems like a lot for jelly beans, no?
Here are the ingredients:
Malitol, Malitol Syrup, Polydextrose, Modified Food Starch, Contains 2% or Less of the Following: Sucralose, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Color Added, Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5 & 6 Lake, Blue 1, Tapioca Dextrin, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Confectioner's Glaze, Salt.
So I guess it is the Polydextrose, a soluble fiber used as a thickening agent in low-cal foods (Source: Wikipedia). Huh. There's a good article on Slate about how they try to boost the fiber content of "high fiber" foods (such as sugary cereals and high-fiber yogurts) with it despite it having little nutritional benefit. The only benefit, unlike the more natural fibers, is that it gets your GI system rolling, though supposedly not as much as "natural" fiber:
Since I never EXPECTED good fiber in my jelly beans (unlike if I'm eating Fiber One products), I'm not worried about it as long as it's not a dangerous additive. BUT I also don't want to be running to the bathroom over a seemingly harmless little jelly bean.
So there you go. Next time you're blocked up, grab a Jelly Belly. YUM!
EDITED FOR REVIEW:
OK, I worked up the courage and tried a couple (licorice and cherry). I don't like them because they stuck to my teeth big time. They taste OK, but not as good as the regular kind. Ah, live and learn. I think that's enough for me!
RUNTRILAUGH noted that Wikipedia had something similar about Maltitol, which notes "Due to its slow absorption, excessive consumption can have a laxative effect and produce intestinal gas, bloating, and diarrhea. It is very easy for food producers to use it in vast quantities, due to its similarity to sugar, so consumers often end up ingesting far more than they could most other sugar alcohols. This means that maltitol is particularly associated with gastrointestinal upset."
I guess it's a laxative festival with these things. I never would have guessed!