Post on: January 31, 2019.

Posted in: Read.

Any chance your well-intended food choices have been deceptively unhealthy?

The words ‘low fat’ sound magnificent. Hearing them is enchanting –hearing them may even make you want to do a happy dance. Why does ‘low fat’ magically entrance you? The superstars of healthy eating, fruits and vegetables are low fat foods. There’s a strong link in your brain between the terms ‘low fat’ and the food being healthy. Knowing the immense power of ‘low fat’, processed foods place them prominently on their label. When these packaged foods chant to you, “Eat me! I’m a low fat food,” it’s hard to resist …but, should you?

Low Fat Foods that are Bad for You

1. Low Fat Frozen Yogurt

2. Low Fat Salad Dressing

3. Low Fat Cookies

4. Low Fat Flavoured Yogurt

5. Low Fat Muffins

6. Low Fat Cereal Bars

7. Low Fat Smoothies

Low Fat Foods You Shouldn’t Eat

Bewitched by their labels and charmed by their flavour, you may find your kitchen is host to many low fat foods. Some are healthy. Some are harmful. But, which is which? Some low fat foods you shouldn’t eat are low fat salad dressing, low fat cookies and baked goods, low fat yogurt, low fat cereal bars and low fat frozen yogurt. 

How did these low fat foods become unhealthy? Perhaps, it was when the food industry decided eating less animal fat may benefit health, particularly heart health. Out came fat from processed foods. Removing fat though left processed food manufacturers with a very unpalatable problem. Without fat, foods lack texture. Driven to find an alternative to animal fats, they reached for plant oils. By hydrogenating plant oil, a solid fat can be created to replace animal fat. This was a seemingly perfect substitution – yet, there entered trans fats. In processed foods that are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils up to 60% of the fat content can be trans fat. Trans fats are particularly harmful to the heart. Consuming high amounts of trans fat is among the food habits with the largest effects on mortality, according to Harvard School of Public Health researchers.

Fat is flavour. Thus, food products have to find another way to excite your taste buds. By adding sugar and salt, processed foods bump up their flavour. Sugar and salt not only taste good, but they can be addictive; hence why you crave unhealthy foods. It’s not breaking news anymore that these two are best avoided for long term health. Sugar consumption is linked to weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Salt is attributed to high blood pressure.

Are Low Fat Foods Healthy?

Packaged foods can be tasty, convenient and charming with their low fat claims but, they are not a heart healthy choice. A recent study of Americans who died from heart disease, found some cases were caused by diet choices, such as eating processed meats, too much salt, few vegetables, fruits, omega-3-rich seafood, nuts and seeds. Instead, try consuming these: the best foods to eat for heart health.

Just because a food is labeled ‘low fat’ does not mean it is healthy. “It’s important to recognize it’s still a processed food, not a whole food,” reminds Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Eating whole foods has been linked to health benefits in studies for decades. 

Whole foods are always the healthier choice. The bonus is that many whole foods are naturally low fat foods! If you haven’t yet stopped to consider how the appetite satisfying and delicious banana, yam or legumes are also low fat foods – perhaps it’s time.

Navigating your way through the aisles of the grocery store can be tricky! Particularly when processed packages try to lure you in with their charming, deliciously sweet (…don’t forget fatty and salty) packaging with promises of delight within each low fat bite. When in doubt, do the bulk of your food shopping in the outside aisles of your store where you’ll find lots of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Whole foods are high in fiber and naturally low in fat: great choices for those trying to achieve weight management and improve heart health.

It’s easier than you think. Try my Grocery Cart Makeover and see what healthy feels like.

[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AND WRITTEN FOR THE PRITIKIN LONGEVITY CENTER by Allison Tannis, 2018]

References

The preventable cause of death in the United States, 2009.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19399161

Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality in the U.S. 2017.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28267855

Trans Fat Intake and Its Dietary Sources in General Population Worldwide https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579633/