Walk down any supermarket aisle and you’ll be bombarded with a variety of low-fat foods… from yoghurt and cheese to ready meals and crisps. In fact, trying to find a product that is full-fat is a near-impossible task.
Now, the latest low-fat fad that will soon hit our supermarket shelves is low-fat chocolate. Well, to be more specific, low-fat Mars bars.
Sugar is the villain not fat
It’s hailed as a “scientific breakthrough” that could see the fat content of a Mars bar reduced by 10 per cent. But despite what food manufacturers and low-fat diehards would like us to believe, these low-fat products are anything but the silver bullets for weight loss they are made out to be.
And the simple reason for this is that the conventional “wisdom” about fat being an obesity and heart disease demon is now being challenged by mounting evidence showing that the real villain is sugar.
Even the National Forum on Obesity has recently questioned current low-fat dietary guidelines. This is because growing evidence is showing that naturally occurring fats are not as bad for us as previously thought. Some types of saturated fat, like that found in cocoa butter, might even be good for us.
In fact, some medical experts now believe low-fat foods can actually cause us to gain, not lose weight. A case in point is a recent study, conducted by Dr Walter Willett from the Harvard School of Public Health, which found that eating a low-fat diet can cause some people to pile on pounds rather than shed them.
Dr. Willet believes this is probably because low-fat foods don’t fill us up as well as full-fat ones, and leave us wanting more.
It’s a fact that highly processed low-fat food products ? yoghurt, biscuits and ready meals, especially ? are often laden with extra sugar to make up for the lost flavour when fat is removed.
So, considering the high sugar content in low-fat products, I’m inclined to think these diet products are more likely to cause sugar cravings, which makes us eat more of the same sugary low-fat foods… and that’s how we pile on those extra pounds.
Now, I’m not sure how much sugar this new breed of low-fat chocolate will contain, but my guess is that it will contain just as much, if not more, than the full-fat version. So, while food manufacturers may want you to believe that your “skinny” Mars bar is a guilt-free way of enjoying chocolate, in the long run you’ll probably find that it will add more inches to your waist than you expected.
If you want to enjoy some chocolate in moderation every now and then, it’s best to avoid eating processed chocolate altogether. Instead, opt for organic dark, bitter chocolate containing at least 70 per cent cacao. It contains far less sugar and has proven health benefits like improving blood flow, lowering blood pressure and helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
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Low-fat chocolate will make us even fatter, published online 21.06.16, telegraph.co.uk