Low Fat Lies
One of the recommendations for preventing breast cancer and heart disease is to follow a low-fat diet. This does not mean a no fat diet. To be healthy, 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories can come from fat with saturated fat limited to not more than 10 percent of total daily calories. This recommended daily allowance is meant to encourage monitoring of your total fat intake, and not meant to be interpreted as an endorsement for “low fat” packaged foods.
Unfortunately, this low-fat craze has created a demand for newer versions of packaged foods made to taste seemingly like the original, but with a lower fat content. The key word here is the word packaged. Cookies, crackers, and dairy products are among the list of commonly purchased low-fat foods. The FDA allows food manufactures to advertise products with a "low-fat" label if it contains three grams of fat or less per serving. This is the only piece of information that the low-fat label can tell you. It doesn't tell you what’s in the product, how it’s made, or any other nutritional content such as sodium and cholesterol. Potato chips and other snack foods which are unhealthy choices are made to sound good for you by being labeled “low fat”. These are simply low fat lies.
By deceptive labeling, consumers are lead to believe that these packaged low-fat foods are healthy. Since they assume these foods are lower in calories, the temptation is to eat more of them. Researchers at Cornell University, report that many low-fat alternatives are advertised to have up to 40 percent fewer calories than regular brands, when the actual figure is more likely to be only around 11 percent.
Fat provides flavor in food. If you are buying a food that previously tasted good because of its fat content (like ice cream, for example), the fat has to be replaced with something else in order to be flavorful. In reality, some of the fat is substituted with increased levels of sugar and artificial ingredients for added taste. If you compare the original version of a product with the low-fat brand, you will often find a higher number of sugar grams. So don’t assume that low fat always means low calorie.
Our bodies need real fats to stay healthy. Fats are an efficient source of energy, providing more than twice the number of calories as proteins or carbohydrates---so a little goes a long way. In addition to providing energy, fats are also involved in the regulation of hormones, help support cell membranes, and are needed for the body to assimilate the four fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.
Healthy fats like olive and coconut oil will help to feel fuller longer and diminish the temptation to overeat. The fact is that you’re better off with a half teaspoon of the real thing than two tablespoons of the fake. So before you purchase any foods labeled “low fat’, check the sugar content. Next count how many ingredients on the label you can’t pronounce or are listed as artificial. In this case, one is too many.
Excerpt with permission from Judy Medeiros Fitzgerald’s book, A Teacher's Journey...What Breast Cancer Taught Me. If you wish to buy the book, go to: www.Sisters4Prevention.com.