As a nutritionist, one of the biggest issues I have with makers of commercially prepared salad dressings, crackers, muffins and cookies is their use of the term “fat-free”. In Canada, a food company is allowed to label their product as “fat-free” if it contains less than 1 gram of fat per serving. Here’s why I’m concerned about that:
1. The type of fat used in the product may be a source of trans fats, such as hydrogenated oils or vegetable shortening. These fats lower protective HDL cholesterol and raise risk-associated LDL cholesterol. Considering that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Canadians, none of us needs that.
3. Sugar is added to bring flavour to fat-free and low-sodium foods. This should concern diabetics and parents with overweight kids in particular, especially if the sugar is listed as ” high-fructose corn syrup” or “dextrose”. These sugars have a high-glycemic index, rapidly raising blood sugar and contributing to hyperactivity in susceptible individuals.
4. Fat-free foods contain extra sodium to make them taste better. Individuals with breathing difficulties, high blood pressure or PMS need to watch out for this additive. Salt is a popular and cheap flavour enhancer that most Westerners don’t notice until it’s gone because processed foods can taste bland without it.
5. Fat-free foods reduce the feeling of satiety. Have you ever had a fat-free muffin and wonder why you couldn’t stop there? Without fats, starchy foods leave the stomach more rapidly, leaving the eater with hunger pangs sooner than if they had eaten a ‘regular’ fat-containing muffin. You’ll probably ingest more calories through a larger serving of the fat-free food than you would have if you’d eaten the fat-full version!
There are more fat-free foods on the marketplace and more obesity than ever before. Coincidence? I doubt it. Do yourself a favour and avoid products labeled “fat-free”.
Do “fat-free” – labeled products taste good to you?