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Just a quick rundown on fat!

14 Jun 2013

A question often asked of me is “Are low fat options better than full fat options?” It’s a difficult one as until recently, low fat diets have had the best press but people who are following these are really not losing the weight they had hoped to.

While some low fat products are very useful for health and weight many products have had their fat replaced with high-glycaemic carbohydrates such as sugars and corn syrup, which means they are not necessarily lower in kilojoules and may cause the body to increase the production of insulin in the body. Insulin controls blood glucose levels by shunting glucose into muscle, liver and fat cells - which of course stops burning of fat.

In low fat biscuits and cakes, you are likely to see carbohydrate replacements used such as sugars (dextrins, maltodextrins, corn syrup), modified starch, cellulose-based fibre and vegetable gums. Such additions are likely to replace any kilojoules lost from fat reduction.

In low fat dairy products, increased creaminess is often attained through the addition of skin milk and vegetable gums. The addition of extra protein from the skim milk will help satiety but often these products also have extra sugars and flavourings added (such as in some of the yoghurts) so once more read the labels and see the kilojoule count.

In savoury items fat is often replaced with chemically altered fats. These are called “trans” fats and are chemically altered to resist digestion and pass thought the body unchanged - this can cause all sorts of problems in the body. Used a lot in junk foods and processed in foods.

Remember, we do need fat in our diet and there is also no magic formula for weight loss. The best advice is to watch portion size and to include lean protein such as low fat meat, fish, poultry, tofu, unprocessed grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Soluble fibre in the form of vegetables and fruits has a role to play in regulating fat and cholesterol intake. Fats and oils should all come from monosaturated and polysaturated fats such as rice bran, olive oil, grape seed and sesame oil.

Fats are fine if they are as nature intended. If they have been altered to fit in a packet - think again.

Tags: Diet, Health, Lifestyle

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