Low In Fat, High In Salt And Sugar?


Are foods labeled “low-fat” really that good for you? When they come in the form of fruits and veggies, I say Mangia! But, it might be wise to take a closer look at the prepackaged items in your shopping cart.

A recent report from Consumer Reports found that lower fat foods can have pretty steep levels of sodium, including unlikely items such as Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (350 mg a cup), Friendship 1% low-fat cottage cheese (360 mg), Twizzlers Black Licorice Twists (four have 200 mg), Aunt Jemima Original Pancake and Waffle Mix (200 mg a pancake), Heart Healthy V8 vegetable juice (480 mg) and even the Caesar salad from McDonald’s has 890 mg of sodium.

The high salt content is there mostly to compensate for taste, but simultaneously, it increases our risk for complications from high blood pressure like heart attack, kidney disease and stroke, as well as risk ofasthma, kidney stones, osteoporosis and stomach cancer.

Similar to salt, sugar is often loaded into low-fat items to enhance taste. Not to mention, corn is subsidized by the government so high fructose corn syrup, the synthetic sweetener in most boxed foods, is super cheap to come by, making it an alluring ingredient for big companies.

A recent article in Men’s Health magazine sited items that top the charts when it comes to sugar content. On the list was Quaker Natural Granola: Oats, Honey & Raisins. Sounds healthy right? One cup has 30 grams of sugar. Yikes! Not good, considering processed sugar, or refined carbohydrates, can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, telling your body to store fat and increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes.

So, check your food labels. But beware, sugar can fall under many names, including corn sweetener, corn syrup or corn syrup solids, dehydrated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrin, maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, and most other ingredients ending in “ose,” among others.

What can you do?

When it comes to salt, The Consumer Reports article offers some good advice: Shop for condiments with no salt added; eat at home more and cook with less salt; eat one serving (instead of the whole can of soup); avoid sodium heavyweights, like soy sauce, chicken bouillion and cured meats (like bacon, ham and hot dogs) and check your medicine (some drugs can contain sodium). See our article on shaking the salt habit for more easy ideas.

As for sugar? Try to buy cereals with less that 10 grams of sugar; use spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to add flavor to plain foods like oatmeal; give bland cereals a pick-me-up by throwing in some fresh berries; replace highly processed and refined sugars like corn syrup with more natural alternatives like honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave nectar.

These items have more nutrients and therefore take longer to digest than their processed counterparts, keeping you fuller longer and helping to avoid dangerous spikes in blood sugar. Learn more about choosing the right carbs.

Foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt

These foods should be avoided as they are high in fat, including saturated fat, sugar and salt. They may promote obesity, which can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

How many servings can I have a day? 

There are NO recommended servings for this group because they are not essential. Start today and limit what you eat from this shelf to no more than 1 serving a day maximum and ideally not everyday. Don’t be tempted to swap eating healthy foods so you can have more of these foods high in fat, sugar and salt. You need healthy foods in the serving sizes recommended to provide all your vitamins and minerals.

The following examples are about 100 calories – so check the label when choosing foods high in fat and sugar.

  • About 4 squares of chocolate (half a bar)
  • 1 small or fun sized chocolate coated bar
  • 1 bag of lower fat crisps
  • 1 small cup cake (without icing) or one plain mini muffin
  • 1 small slice of fruit brack
  • 2 plain biscuits or 1 chocolate biscuit
  • About ½ a can of sugary drink
  • 1 scoop of vanilla ice-cream
  • ½ or 1 cereal bar

If you add sugar to your tea, coffee or breakfast cereal, gradually reduce the amount you add until it’s little or none

Why do we need to eat less of these?

Many of the health problems in Australia today are linked to poor eating habits. Too many people eat too much saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol. Even reducing these by small amounts can make us healthier. It can help us manage our weight better and reduce our risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers and chronic kidney disease.

This is why foods that are high in saturated fats, added salt, added sugars or alcohol are called discretionary choices. They also tend to be low in fibre and important nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

These foods are important for celebrating and social occasions, but should be limited to small amounts and only eaten sometimes.

How do I work out what foods to eat?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines and Australian Guide to Healthy Eating have been reviewed to make sure they are based on most current scientific evidence. This means they can be used to assess popular claims about food and health and to work out what is true.

It can be tricky when different people are giving conflicting advice about healthy eating. It can be hard to know what to believe.

For more information visit us our website: https://www.healthinfi.com

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