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CHICAGO, Dec 29 (AFP) - Sara Lee Bakery Group, a producer of brand-name bakery goods, launched a new line of low-calorie, low-carbohydrate breads Monday in a post-Christmas pitch to the Atkins' crowd.
The new products include a white bread loaf with almost half the calories and carbohydrates of typical regular white breads, and a wheat loaf with about a third fewer calories and carbs than a standard wheat loaf.
"We wanted to offer a great-tasting, full-size slice of bread that also meets the nutritional needs of consumers watching their carbohydrate and calorie intake," said Richard Noll, chief executive officer, Sara Lee Bakery Group, in a statement.
"For many consumers, heightened awareness about carbohydrates and calories is here to stay."
The offerings for carb-conscious consumers comes amid growing evidence of the influence of the low-carb Atkins diet on US consumption habits and coincides with the seasonal focus on calorie-counting following the traditional indulgence of the Christmas period.
Several recent studies have bolstered the weight-loss claims of the high-protein, low-carb regime, giving a shot in the arm to a food craze that has won over millions of Americans, who in turn are fueling sweeping changes in restaurant menus.
Earlier this month, one of the largest US family food chains, T.G.I. Friday's began offering menu items endorsed by Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the company that started the low-carbohydrate diet craze.
All 523 Friday's restaurants in the United States now offer nine new Atkins dishes, including Tuscan spinach dip, with 17 Atkins net carbs; garlic chicken with mixed vegetables, with seven net carbs; and a New York strip steak with bleu cheese and a side of broccoli, with six net carbs.
According to data gathered by Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., the group that owns the Friday's chain, 19 percent of frequent restaurant patrons are using the Atkins diet or some other low-carb diet.
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