How Low Fat Makes You Grow Fat.
The Hidden Dangers of Low Fat Foods
One of the most important pieces of advice we have for anyone interested in maintaining a good diet and healthy lifestyle is to keep your food shopping to the perimeter of your local supermarket. Do this and you will find yourself buying foods that are largely natural in their origin and which are therefore free of the additives and refined sugars we most want to avoid.
But what if you can’t resist it? What if the siren call of the centre aisles proves irresistible? Well then. Tread carefully, dear friend. Think before you buy and don’t make the fatal assumption that simply because a product dresses itself as ‘low fat’, it must be good for you. All too often, the opposite is true.
Even though they are marketed as a healthy eating option, a large proportion of the low fat foods we find on the shelves of our supermarket are little better for us (and in many cases worse) than the full fat option next to it. This is not only because animal fats may have been replaced with hydrogenated fats (which increase levels of dangerous trans-fats in our food) but because low fat foods are likely to have increased amounts of sugar.
Why? The answer has to do with taste. After removing the natural fats from their food, and replacing them with hydrogenated fats, manufacturers discovered a core problem. Their low fat food options were relatively tasteless. The easiest way to overcome this was to increase the sugar content in these foods.
A number of recent surveys, conducted in the UK, have highlighted this problem. One study, released by Channel 4’s Dispatches team, found that low fat foods contain an average 20% more sugar than their full fat equivalents and that they can actually increase the risk of weight gain, heart disease and diabetes!
This remarkable finding is supported by research conducted by The Daily Telegraph in the UK, which studied 100 popular low or non-fat grocery items from major supermarkets. Their findings were shocking, to say the least. Not only did dozens of these items contain at least two teaspoons of sugar in a single serving, but one in four products contained more than three teaspoons!
Clearly, such high levels of sugar should be avoided, especially in light of the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that we should consume as little as 25 grams (six teaspoons) of sugar per day. With many sugars occurring naturally in our foods (and especially in the fruit we eat) highly refined and processed foods, packed with additional sugar, are something we might want to steer clear of.
So, next time you find yourself stuck in the centre aisles of your supermarket and that easy-to-cook, low fat meal option throws itself in front of you? Take the time, at least, to read the ingredients label. Check how much sugar is in the product. In all likelihood, you’ll find yourself putting it back on the shelf.