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Health Halo ... in 'Low-Fat' Foods

Posted Oct 01 2012 9:45am
Low fat foods are a trend now - they are more available and more customers are asking for them. They are labeled as 'low-fat', 'reduced fat', 'light' or 'lite'. But what you may disregard is that foods with fat extracted from them will have to increase ‘something’ during processing - whether sugar, salt and/or artificial ingredients and flavors - to compensate for any loss in taste! In fact, not only do lipids make the food taste better, but they also give a delicious slippery texture on the tongue and throat. Therefore, new flavors and ingredients must be added to get customers to buy such products - taste and mouthfeel. The highly used ingredients added are commonly high-fructose corn syrup, sodium and artificial sweeteners. So, if you want to have low-fat foods, keep in mind to assess how much you, your health, your weight loss/maintenance program and your body need that extra ingredient you’re about to have.


Photo credit: lifehacker.com
On another hand, a study from Cornell Univeristy  shows that when foods are labelled as ‘low-fat’, people were less guilty to eat them, they were encouraged to eat up to 50 % more and they took around 90 extra calories than they would have had if that claim was just not present on the food label! This trick is called Health Halo: when customers check such claims, they automatically underestimate the caloric content – consequently eating more.


Bottom line

1- Know what such claims mean for the nutrient you're looking for. 'Low, Little, Fewer' adjectives are different than 'Lower, Reduced' claims as well as they are different when describing fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or calories. So check this  FDA 's explanation sheet to understand more what each claim for each nutrient REALLY means. Therefore, read your food label properly – the food product might have lower nutrient or fat content than the original product and not in absolute content.

2- Don’t freak out from fats. Go for healthy ones – olive oil, olives, avocados  nuts, seeds and sunflower/corn/canola oils while ditching trans and saturated fats from fried, junk, refined and fast food! Your body requires them; they are much needed in absorbing vitamins A, D, E and K, protecting your organs, providing your with energy, producing hormones, developing your brain and in maintaining healthy cells and skin.

Don’t take low-fat foods for granted and definitely don’t treat them as free food!
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