Myth busted: Are low-fat alternatives better for you?
Low fat alternatives to foods have boomed in popularity since trans-fats were removed from many Australian products in the mid-1990s.
This ban was part of a global “war on fat” based on data from a study which has since been called out for manipulating results – but we have it to thank for our grocery store aisles being lined with low-fat options.
Promoted as a healthy alternative to staples such as milk, butter, and salad dressings, low-fat products are often higher in refined sugars and other detrimental ingredients.
Low in fat, high in carbohydrates
According to the experts at House Call Doctor, fats generally make the texture and taste of our food more palatable.
So, when low-fat alternatives are created, manufacturers often add ingredients like sugar, salt, and artificial flavours to keep the taste consumers know and love.
This often results in food high in carbs and with a similar caloric content to their full-fat counter parts.
It can also reduce our body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, including:
- Vitamin A, which maintains healthy teeth, bones and skin;
- Vitamin D, which helps with the absorption of calcium; and
- Vitamins E and K, which are essential for blood health.
Eating a healthy amount of fat
While it is recommended that trans-fats and saturated fats are avoided, “good fats” like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are essential for making hormones, maintaining healthy blood vessels, and ensuring our nervous system functions properly.
Good fats can be found in foods like:
- Vegetable oils; and
When shopping to replenish your kitchen staples, make a habit of checking labels. Foods with an unnecessarily high fat content will usually have around 17g of saturated fat per 100g of food.
Similarly, when shopping for low-fat alternatives, look for options with around 10g or less of sugar per 100g of food.