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Nutraceutical Bars lesson plans

Nutraceutical Bars

This lesson plan uses the attitude objectives stated in the Alberta Program of Studies for Elementary Science. It is intended to encourage students to develop the following attitudes towards scientific study:

Demonstrate positive attitudes for the study of science and for the application of science in responsible ways.

Specific Learner Expectations

Students will show growth in acquiring and applying the following traits

  • curiosity
  • confidence in personal ability to learn and develop problem-solving skills
  • inventiveness and open-mindedness
  • perseverance in the search for understandings and for solutions to problems
  • flexibility in considering new ideas
  • critical-mindedness in examining evidence and determining what the evidence means
  • a willingness to use evidence as the basis for their conclusions and actions
  • a willingness to work with others in shared activities and in sharing of experiences
  • appreciation of the benefits gained from shared effort and cooperation
  • a sense of personal and shared responsibility for actions taken
  • respect for living things and environments, and commitment for their care.

Teachers are encouraged to use these lesson plans as a springboard for studying specific topics in Elementary Science.

What does “nutraceutical” mean?

In this lesson plan, students will learn the origin of the term and why some foods are called nutraceuticals.

The word “nutraceutical” is a combination of “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical.” In its most basic definition, a nutraceutical food can be best described as “medicine that tastes good.” These foods and ingredients offer medical and health benefits to supplement those normally offered in conventional foods.

Foods considered to be nutraceuticals can contain healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, protein, fibre, and minerals. They can also be low in processed sugar and have little or no hydrogenated or trans fats.

Lesson 1—Activity 1
Show the students examples carbohydrate-heavy common foods such as breads and pastas. Discuss why carbohydrates are necessary in a diet and the effects they have on the human body. Let the students taste and smell these foods in their most common form, and then show them bars containing healthy carbohydrates, allowing them to sample.

Lesson 1—Activity 2
Show students a variety of bars (fruit, granola and other cereal-based, energy, nutraceutical) and suggest ways in which they can determine the healthiest bars for their diet.

What are nutraceutical bars?

This lesson plan introduces students to the concept of nutritional bars that supplement or complement the diet of human beings.

In 1992, an Edmonton company called New Era Nutrition worked with scientists and nutritionists from the University of Alberta Hospital to develop a balanced nutrition bar. The company’s plan was to offer a made-in-Alberta alternative to the Power Bar, which was being successfully marketed in the United States. New Era’s bar was called the Balance bar.

Over the years, the company would develop soy bars and protein mixes, meal-replacement bars, probiotic bars to assist in digestion, and a line of apple-based fruit sponge bars for children.

Lesson 2—Activity 1
Arrange a field trip to the New Era Nutrition production facilities to show students how the bars are developed and produced. Or arrange for a speaker to visit the class to show how nutraceuticals are beneficial.

Lesson 2—Activity 2
Show students a Power Bar and a Balance Bar. Let them taste and smell the bars, as you describe the contents of each bar and the effects of the ingredients on the human body.

Lesson 2—Activity 3
Show the students pieces of fruit, fruit leather and a fruit sponge bar. Compare the amount of sugar in each, and allow them to smell and taste the examples. Which of these is best for the diet, and why?

What are probiotics?

This lesson plan will show students the role played by probiotics and where probiotics can be found in everyday foods.

Probiotics are often called “healthy bacteria” that supplement the flora already present in the gastrointestinal tract and assist in digestion. Two beneficial bacteria are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. Probiotics can be added to milk and yogurt products, and are also available as supplements in pill or capsule form. They are helpful in restoring digestion when infection or antibiotics have taken a toll on the gastrointestinal tract.

Lesson 3—Activity 1
Allow the students to taste several products containing probiotics, including yogurt, milk and nutraceutical bars. Let them compare these products with probiotic-free examples. Is there a difference in flavour or aroma?

Why should we eat nutraceutical foods?

This lesson plan will show students the differences between nutritional bars that can be found at grocery stores and natural food stores.

Nutraceuticals are designed to complement and supplement nutrition obtained from a regular diet. In cases where a diet is deficient in certain elements, nutraceuticals can add the missing nutrition, in much the same fashion as vitamin supplements.

Lesson 4—Activity 1
Show the students various kinds of nutritional energy and meal replacement bars, including nutraceutical bars. Choose bars that are the same flavour for comparison. Let students smell and taste the various examples, and have them describe the differences.

Lesson 4—Activity 2
Compare the contents of the varieties of nutritional energy and meal replacement bars. Tell the students why the contents vary from bar to bar, and the effects these bars will have on their bodies and diet.

What is chicory and why is it used in these bars?

With this lesson plan, students will learn about the chicory plant and its uses.

Chicory is related to another edible plant called the endive. The flavour of chicory can be bitter, and when it is dried and roasted, it is often used as a substitute for coffee.

The chicory that is used in the peanut-flavoured prebiotic nutraceutical bar contains a soluble fibre extract called inulin. This part of the chicory plant promotes the growth of beneficial gastrointestinal probiotics such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium, which can assist in digestion.

Lesson 5—Activity 1
Show the students an endive and a chicory plant. Allow them to taste and smell the plants before cooking and/or roasting. Let the students taste and smell the cooked plants. What are the differences between endive and chicory?

Lesson 5—Activity 2
Show the students two kinds of instant coffee: the conventional variety and the chicory replacement (or chicory-extended coffee) found in natural food stores. Prepare the coffees and allow the students to smell and taste. What are the differences between the two varieties?

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