Most low-fat products have 25 per cent lower fat content than a full-fat product. However, people believe that low fat always equals healthy, and this is not always the case.
As much as we like to think our “low-fat” cakes and frozen chips can pass as healthy food, this myth has been widely debunked. Even though some products will be lower in calories, food items that are low in fat are often bad for us in other ways.
Products that label themselves as low fat can be deceptive in three main ways. Nutritionist, Clare Fargher, from Navigate Nutrition talks us through them.
1. The product is already low fat
The first deception is when the product is always low fat in all forms. These products might be high in sugar however can still be called “low fat” because they have very little or no fat levels. Two perfect examples of this are soft drink and lollies. Due to their high sugar content, these products are not necessarily a healthy choice. In fact, if you come across a packet of lollies proudly emblazed with the words “99 per cent fat free”, you should be wondering how they injected one per cent of fat.
2. There are higher levels of sugar
The second deception is found in products that are low fat, but have had extra sugar added to replace the lost fat. This means that a product can be marketed as “low fat” and therefore healthy, when in fact the sugar content of the low-fat product is much higher than the full fat product, making the low-fat product an unhealthy choice. Low-fat flavoured yoghurt is a great example of this. Checking the label to ensure that the sugar content is less than 20 per cent total sugar (from fruit and added sugar) is really important with low fat yoghurt. Alternatively, choosing a sugar free option is the best. Another example is low fat breakfast cereal and cereal bars. These are marketed as being “healthy and low fat” when in fact they often have a very high sugar and sometimes salt content, making them unhealthy products.
3. It has little to no nutritional value
The third situation is when a product calls itself “low fat” but provides very little nutritional value at all and/or is high in fat even when it is a “low-fat” product. Low fat rice crackers are a great example of little nutritional value. These crackers are marketed as the healthy option, however, they offer highly refined carbohydrates often flavoured with artificial flavours, high levels of salt and sometimes sugar. A handful of nuts is a healthier option which offers nutritional value and will keep you fuller for longer. Potato chips are an example of a product that calls itself “low fat” compared to the original version, however like the rice crackers it is still not a healthy snack option.
Do you buy low-fat products? Let us know in the comments below.