Are digestive biscuits really digestive?

We all love a cuppa with a digestive biscuit, be it chocolate-topped or just a plain one. But what baffles us all, is the name. 

Image: Dipali Limbachia

The word ‘digestive’ is derived from what intended to be, actually digestive. The original recipe for the biscuit contains whole wheat and baking soda. Does Britain’s favourite biscuit have any health benefits though? 

“Literally the name digestive, comes from the reduction of flatulence” (passing wind)

McVitie’s Factory Manager, Peter Senior confesses that the original digestive biscuit recipe is exclusive to McVitie’s, in an interview for The Great British Bake Off.

Although a small amount of baking soda dissolved in water can aid indigestion, the same effect is not relatable to the biscuit.

When the biscuit is baking, the heat causes the sodium bicarbonate to release carbon dioxide, therefore reorganising the chemical structure of the biscuit.

So do they actually have a health benefit at all?

Post Doctoral Researcher for Food Science and Nutrition, Dr Michael Houghton says: “They do contain small amounts of fibre, which aids digestion, but to follow recommendations to increase our intake of dietary fibre there are definitely better sources.” 

“Wholegrain cereals also contain a compound called ferulic acid, which we have shown recently in our lab to exert small but beneficial effects against diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, the sugar and fat outweigh any benefit that might come from any whole grain that goes into the biscuits.”

But isn’t it misleading to keep calling them digestive biscuits, even though they’re not digestive?

Voice of London awaits a response from leading biscuit brand McVitie’s.

Grime artist Giggs like his digestives with cinnamon tea as he refers to it in JME’s hit song, ‘Man Don’t Care.’ Image:


In the meantime…go out there and enjoy your digestives.


Words: Dipali Limbachia | Subbing: Tooba Haq

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