„LIGHT” PRODUCTS

Article by  Dominika Zielińska

The food industry offers a lot of products for people who care about their figure. Low-fat or low-sugar versions of many products fill supermarket shelves. However, the value of such food as helpful in slimming is debatable and some products have a worse nutritional value than their “fattening” counterparts.

NON-FAT PRODUCTS

Store shelves are filled with products recommended as low-fat, „light” or cholesterol-free. Are they healthier than their full-fat versions? The percentage of calories from fat is more important than the percentage of fat in a given product. To calculate this, we must multiply the total number of grams of fat in the product by 9, divide the result by the total number of calories and multiply by 100. We can then conclude that many foods presented as low fat are in fact very fatty products. For example, in cream cheese containing 30% fat, 86% of calories are from fat. The low-fat cheese has 15% fat, which is half of what the full-fat version is. However, when we do the calculations, we discover that the percentage of calories from fat is 73, so it is not a particularly low fat product.

Many items such as ice cream, biscuits and reduced-fat yogurt have increased sugar added to improve taste or consistency. For health and weight reduction, a better solution is to reduce the consumption of fatty foods and their substitutes and replace them with more fruits and vegetables.

WHAT IS IN THE MIDDLE?

„Light” food producers, on the one hand, eliminating sugars and fats, have to replace them with other ingredients to keep the product in its original shape. Sugars are often replaced (often in very large quantities) with synthetic sweeteners that are less caloric than traditional sugar, but their can have unpredictable effects on the body, including the increase of the level of insulin in the blood. In the case of fats, the proportion of these substances, which is not always sufficient, is reduced at the production stage. Then, starch and thickening substances are used as replacements, e.g. modified starch, locust bean gum, inulin, pectin, xanthan gum. To obtain a taste that is comparable to the traditional product, manufacturers often use substances imitating or even enhancing the taste. That is, additional portions of synthetic chemistry.

MORE THAN 0%?

Therefore, all products under the “0%” banner do not contain empty space instead of fats or sugars, but only “clever” chemicals that keep our product unchanged. Following the persuasions of producers, consumers reach for “0% sugar” snacks in the hope that eating a few pieces will not affect their waist circumference. This cannot be more far removed from the truth. Eating the “0%” product means that the body sends a faster signal that it needs more calories, so instead of 1 bar, in the short time we will eat 3 and the total caloric balance will be comparable to eating some popular bar or sometimes even higher.

DIETARY BEVERAGES

In addition to artificial sweeteners, another component that is potentially harmful to health is caffeine, found in many dietetic beverages. It causes an immediate impression of energy flow, crispness and well-being. However, it is an addictive substance and many of us need caffeine as an impulse that will help us survive the hardships of the day. Regular drinking of caffeinated beverages leads to feelings of tiredness, headaches, depressed mood, insomnia, irritability and anxiety. There are serious concerns about the potential for the influence of caffeine on the development of prostate, pancreatic and bladder cancer.

Although dietary foods and drinks are recommended for those who want to lose weight, their alleged advantages are more often advertising than reliable information. Manufacturers of many of these articles claim that they help in weight loss and when used as part of a low-calorie diet. It is true that every product, regardless of how many calories or unhealthy ingredients it contains, can help you lose weight only when used with a low-calorie diet. In fact, it is not the product, but the reduction of calories that leads to weight loss. What’s more, a good amount of such slimming product contains almost as many calories as its regular counterpart. The solution to reducing the caloric content of a meal is to use a smaller amount of such a product for its preparation. 

Dominika Zielińska – dietician/nutritionist

She obtained her master’s degree of Dietetics and bachelor’s studies of Artistic education in the field of musical art at the University of Rzeszów in Poland.

During her studies, she participated in numerous courses and trainings, among others in: anorexia and bulimia, celiac disease and primary lactose intolerance, population health –  tacking health inequalities at regional level, fat burning and the role of hormones, oncological nutrition, infant nutrition and diet for the elderly.

During her studies she took n active part in the activities of the Scientific Circle of Dieticians at the University of Rzeszów and the organization of and participation in the  1st, 2nd, 3rdNational Scientific Conference of Students and PhD Students “Medical Aspects of Human Nutrition”.

In 2016, she published in W.Kruk, M. Marć: Public health, part 4: Threats to public health and the challenges of health education. Chapter 5 (Dominika Zielińska) Influence of information and advertising provided in the mass media on the spontaneous use of drugs in the case of ailments not requiring medical intervention.
She is a highly creative individual, very communicative and with interpersonal skills, eager to learn new skills.
Her hobbies are nutrition and healthy food, music and singing, but also scientific activity.
Email: dominique.z@o2.pl

About Dr Antonella Grima


Dr. Antonella Grima M.D. M.Sc. Pg.Dip. is the founder of the Health and Nutrition Centre in Luqa, Malta. She is a Medical Doctor specialised in Public Health as well as a Registered Nutritionist. Read More >

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