I have been hearing some things about diet foods that were a little, make that a lot, disturbing. I decided to do some research and here is what I came up with. This is meant to be informative only, use your own discretion when making food choices.
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 it is actually more harmful for your overall health than the full fat versions!
• 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. The ingredients in Original Daisy Sour Cream: Grade A Cultured Cream. Fat-Free Daisy Sour Cream: Cultured Skim Milk, Modified Food Starch, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate. One, natural ingredient compared to four 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, do you even know what that is? I had to look it up! It is 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 I need all these extra ingredients when the original version only needed CREAM? I know what cream is, where it comes from and how to pronounce it! I had to look up all the other ingredients!
• 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 to try and achieve a flavor that resembles the original version. To me it seems obvious that if something is NATURAL, it has to be better for me 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 your body reacts adversely and sometimes toxically to them; creating free radicals that damage healthy cells or being broken down and stored as fats! They create the opposite effect for which you were trying!
Sources: WebMD, 100 days of real food, shop well, Bodyecology, Grocery.com, Dairy-House, Be Food Smart, Experience Life,
Collaborators: Laura Schaefer, Lisa Harman