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Fat-free = Blah!

July 9th, 2013 | no comments

yuckDid you know the term “fat-free” doesn’t necessarily equal “healthy.” When fat is removed from a food, it’s often replaced with sugar or salt. The number of total calories in a fat-free product might actually be higher than in something that has fat. Not to mention the flavor of some of these foods is downright unnatural and offensive! Ever taste fat-free cheese? Yuck! Not only does it not melt, you know something’s extra-wrong when your cat (who adores cheese) won’t touch it!

Fat lends flavor and satiety (‘staying power’) to food, so if your meals are lacking it you’ll most likely feel unsatisfied. I rarely if ever look at the fat content of food. What’s more important to me is the amount of trans fat and saturated fat in the product. I try to shoot for less than 1-2 grams of saturated fat per serving when possible and NO trans fats (including no partially hydrogenated oils, hydrogenated oils or shortening in the ingredients). Of course there are certain foods that I refuse to compromise on, like cheese. And because you’re allowed a certain amount of saturated fat in your diet (no more than 16 grams per day) I save mine for some real cheese every night.

Naturally fat-free foods—fruits (except avocados), vegetables, beans and natural whole grains like brown rice,  millet and quinoa—are tasty and nutritious and contain no added salt or sugar. It’s the processed foods you’ll want to be cautious of (fat-free salad dressings, low-fat cookies, reduced-fat peanut butter, fat-free chips, etc.) Another reason to make one-ingredient foods the bulk of your diet! In other words…eat more earth foods!

Bottom line: If the low-fat/fat-free version contains no more sodium or sugar than the original version and there aren’t any added fat-replacement ingredients like emulsifiers or flavoring agents AND you don’t mind the taste difference (because there absolutely WILL be a taste difference)…then go for it!

PS: It’s worth it to go fat-free with milk and yogurt. The extra fat is literally skimmed from the product and nothing is added in its place. A large percentage of this fat is indeed saturated, so not only do you NOT need it, your heart will thank you for making the switch! If you’re having trouble switching to a lower fat milk or yogurt, buy one gallon or carton of each and mix together, gradually phasing out the higher fat version.

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