Switch the light and enjoy a bit of good fat
HOW often have you hesitated before making a selection in the supermarket - is it healthier to choose the light variety? Or is it better to choose the full fat 'real' food that actually tastes better?
I'm often asked this question in relation to naturally high-fat foods, like cheese, yoghourt, and cooking oils. Although it may seem healthier to choose the product labelled light, sometimes its better to just enjoy a smaller quantity of the 'real' food instead. Here's why.
Fat gives food a great texture for eating, and it certainly gives it a more appetite-satisfying effect. Foods labelled light are often lower in fat, but sometimes have fillers and additives introduced to the mix, in an attempt to mimic the texture of fat. Some producers add extra sugar to their light product too; again, it's an attempt to improve the flavour of the food. By choosing light you could actually be eating far more empty calories than if you had selected the full-fat variety.
Choosing light varieties may fool your subconscious into thinking you can eat twice as much, because that food seems healthier. Then you might eat less of the fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and protein.
Light varieties may require extra processing to extract the fats and add in the fillers. Generally speaking, the more processed a food is, the less healthy it is.
Light varieties of vegetable oils may have micronutrients removed with the extra processing. This is why extra virgin olive oil and other first press oils are a dark colour - they are full of vitamins and minerals as well as fats.
Just as a reminder, most healthy adults need only two serves of dairy every day. One serve is one cup of milk, 100g of yoghourt or 28g of cheese. How much dairy are you eating most days?
Balance, variety and moderation are the keys to a healthy diet. You can still enjoy that full fat cheese, full fat milk and full fat yoghourt, but in much smaller quantities. The 'real' versions are usually more flavoursome, so enjoy them in moderation.