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    Archive for the ‘fat-free’ Category

    Surprise! Another Half-Truthful Health Claim

    unclebens_jpgMany thanks to Small Bites’ Twitter follower @koshtoo, who shared this photograph with me, as she believed I “would find interesting.”  I certainly did!

    In case you are unable to see the photograph, it shows a box of Uncle Ben’s Original converted white rice.  The lower right-hand corner of the box features a “Supports a Healthy Heart” statement and logo.

    Underneath the logo, we see:

    Enriched with Vitamins and Minerals

    Naturally Fat-Free

    Oh, dear.

    Sure.  A refined grain like white rice does not add a single gram of fat to our diets, but that does not make it heart-healthy.

    In fact, refined, fiberless carbohydrates like white rice raise triglyceride levels.

    High triglycerides — they are a type of fat in the blood, in case you weren’t sure — are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  NOT heart-healthy!

    Vitamin and mineral enrichment, meanwhile, is kind of a nutritional red flag.  After all, enrichment means that most of the nutrients originally found in that food were added back in after the food underwent significant processing.

    Brown rice has those exact same nutrients.  Since brown rice is not processed to the same degree as white rice, they all stay in their place, without the need to enrich.

    What upsets me most about this health claim is that it reinforces the myth that “low fat = heart healthy.”

    Remember: some of the best foods we can eat for heart-health — such as salmon, sardines, avocados, nuts, and seeds — are rich in healthy fats.

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    When NOT To Go Skim

    product_sc_whiteIf you are a regular skim milk drinker and optimal nutrition is your goal, there are certain times when low-fat (1%), reduced-fat (2%), or soy (rather than skim) is the way to go.

    Although all milk in the United States is fortified with vitamins A & D, non-fat milk is a rather useless vehicle for it.  Why?  Vitamins A and D are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be consumed along with a small amount of fat (3 or 4 grams usually suffice) to be absorbed.

    If at any point in the day you are drinking non-fat milk without any other source of fat, you are much better off opting for a low-fat variety.

    Remember, an 8-ounce cup of low-fat milk only contains 14 more calories, 1.8 more grams of fat, and 0.9 more grams of saturated fat than that same amount of skim milk.

    If you enjoy the taste of soy milk, make yourself a vegan latte.  A cup of soy milk contains enough fat to help you absorb fat-soluble nutrients.

    Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your dairy consumption:

    • Accompany your fat-free morning latte with a healthy fat (i.e.: 1 tablespoon of the nut butter of your choice on whole grain toast)
    • Not a fan of sipping coffee between bites of food?  Make your coffee with low-fat, reduced fat, or soy milk
    • If you only like your oatmeal with non-fat milk, throw in some raw almonds or walnuts in there to help you absorb vitamins A and D
    • If you only enjoy fruit smoothies made with non-fat milk, add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to add that important small amount of fat
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    You Ask, I Answer: Is PAM Really Fat-Free?

    grilling_canThe posting on PAM you put up made me think about something else.

    The front of the can says PAM is “for fat-free cooking.”

    But if the first ingredient is oil, how can they get away with saying it’s fat-free?

    — Larissa Mergold
    (Location withheld)

    Great question!  This is a simple matter of nutrition label manipulation, which the Food & Drug Administration appears to have no qualms with.

    If you look at the back of a PAM spray bottle, you will see that one serving is considered a spray lasting a laughable third of a second.

    That odd length of time (which you would need bionic powers to determine) is used in order to get the highly marketable “0 calorie” and “0 grams of fat” figures on the nutrition label.

    It is very likely that a one-third-of-a-second spray contains 0.2 or 0.3 grams of fat.  As with trans fats, this can legally be rounded down to 0 grams and therefore qualify for a “fat-free” statement on the can.

    Interestingly, when comparing their cooking spray to oils, the PAM website uses a more realistic serving of a 1-second spray, which contains 7 calories and “<1 gram of fat.”

    Notice the “<1 gram of fat”?  That probably means you are looking at 0.8 or 0.9 grams.

    On a food label, they would have to round to the nearest whole number (in this case, 1) but since they are using the information for their website, they can get away with that wording.

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