Low in Fat, High in Lies

You know the drill. You’re walking down the supermarket aisle, trying to decide what to buy for breakfast that’s easy and quick to eat so you can sleep an extra ten minutes. Toast is out (isn’t there some fad thing about gluten?), the cereal section crushes your heart (it’s too hard to guess which ones sneak sultanas in) and suddenly you see it at the end in the freezer: yoghurt! So you stroll your cart on over and try to pick something that won’t ruin your diet- oh look, one’s 99% fat free.

The problem with this is many brands will add in sugar and flavourings in order to better the taste- because once they remove the fats, it tastes gross. Whilst too much saturated fat is bad for you and your heart, the trans-fats that companies replace this with is damaging is also bad for us and our cholesterol. To make foods low in fat, companies replace saturated fats with trans-fats (through changing the oil structure within the food), as well as adding sugar, flour and salt. This is problematic because, not only does the food most likely have as many carbs as the original version, but your body is now experiencing blood sugar cravings- making you eat more of the low fat food to combat this. All of this sugar also comes with its own set of health warnings: it can lead to obesity which we know is linked to diabetes, as well as the standard heart and high cholesterol issues.

So the solution here, as recommended by many nutritionists and health associations, is to consume a healthy amount of “good fats”. These can be described as monosaturated fats (which are found in oils made from olives, canola, peanuts, safflower and sesame). Another “good fat” is polyunsaturated fats (which are found in oils made from soybeans, corn and sunflowers as well as in fish like mackerel, salmon, trout and herring). The most important part of beating this myth is to check your food labelling: if an item has “low fat” and subsequently has high sodium, sugar or trans-fats levels then it is no better for you than its regular counterpart.

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