We try so hard to make wise choices with our food. We select fat-free, light or diet versions of various foods in hopes of cutting calories and losing, or at least not gaining, weight. Is this a good solution? You may be surprised to hear this, but NO! Fat-free foods are actually more harmful for your overall health than the full fat versions. Here is some proof.
According to USDA and FDA labeling laws, foods labeled fat-free do NOT have to be fat-free. They just have to have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. Low-fat foods must have 3 grams or less per serving. Reduced fat must have 25% less fat than the full fat versions, and Light must have 1/3 less calories or 50% less fat than the full fat version. So now you can see how the labels can be misleading. Also, many times people tend to eat MORE of the food because of the label, and may end up inadvertently eating more calories and fat than they would have with a standard serving of the original.
Next time you are at the store, compare the labels of a full fat and a fat free counterpart of any given food. We will use Daisy brand sour cream as an example. Original Daisy Sour Cream has only one ingredient: Grade A Cultured Cream. In comparison, the Fat-Free Daisy Sour Cream contains Cultured Skim Milk, Modified Food Starch, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate. What are the added ingredients? Modified food starch is a starch that has been changed through chemical, enzymatic or physical ways to enhance some quality of the starch (ie gelling, thickening, stabilization). Carrageenan is an extract from seaweed used as a thickening agent. Vitamin A Palmitate is found in fish and fish liver oil, but is most commonly made synthetically by chemically altering Vitamin A (which is very unstable on its own). Why do we need all these extra ingredients when the original version is only made of CREAM? We know what cream is, where it comes from and how to pronounce it, but how about the other three?
Basically, to make foods fat free, light, etc. the manufacturers take out NATURAL ingredients that contain the fat and calories, and replace them will modified or chemical ingredients in an attempt to achieve a flavor that resembles the original version. Do you agree that if something is NATURAL, it has to be better for us than a chemical? Your body knows what to do with the natural ingredients; it was made to process them. When you eat synthetic foods your body doesn’t know what they are or what to do with them, so it has adverse and sometimes toxic reactions to them like creating free radicals that damage healthy cells or are being broken down and stored as fats.
Think twice next time before you reach for the fat-free version of a product you like. Is it really better for you, or does it just create the opposite effect?
I would like to thank Gussie Schmitz, who collected and provided us with the information above. Gussie is a mom of two girls, who has a blog on eating and cooking healthy and nutritious food. For some of her delicious recipes, click here.
Sources: WebMD, 100 days of real food, shop well, Bodyecology, Grocery.com, Dairy-House, Be Food Smart, Experience Life,
Collaborators: Laura Schaefer, Lisa Harman