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The big fat diet con: Food manufacturers sell low-calorie products but boost other nasties

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10/14/2010 11:32 AM
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The big fat diet con: Food manufacturers sell low-calorie products but boost other nasties
'When you remove fats, you lose taste: manufacturers make up for that by increasing the sugar and salt ­levels.'

Do you know the difference between low-fat, low-calorie, lean and light? Do you wonder what ‘healthy’ on a label really means? Our investigation shows that many so-called light or healthy versions of major food brands are often very similar to the original.

To make low fat foods taste better, manufacturers boost levels of other substances which have health issues, like sugar and salt, so the foods often end up being less good for you than the original versions.

Here, Alex Renton, with the help of Catherine Collins, the principal dietician at St Georges’ Hospital in London, takes us through the diet food minefield...

Slimmer’s sandwiches

Ready-made sandwiches seem like a healthy lunch option, but they can hide scary amounts of fat, sugar and salt.

Supermarkets now push healthy versions, but these may not be very different. Tesco’s Light Choices Ploughman’s is sold with the boast ‘30 per cent less fat than the Standard Ploughman’s’. But that should just warn you to avoid the standard sandwich.

The ‘light’ one does not meet government guidelines for low-fat and it still contains 4g of saturated fat - the most unhealthy kind - which is 20 per cent of the ­recommended amount an adult should eat in 24 hours. There’s also 1.6g of salt in the sandwich.

Catherine Collins says: ‘Sandwiches can be a minefield when it comes to healthy eating. This is 300kcal, where they can be up to 500kcal, but it has triple the saturated fat content of a standard tuna sandwich and almost a third of your daily guideline salt, easily boosted to almost half your salt intake if you add a bag of crisps to the meal.’

Healthy crisps

Low-fat does have an official meaning: Less than 3g of fat per 100g. Many products call themselves low in calories, light or healthy, when they’re actually not low in fat at all.

The Boots Shapers range of crisps - directly pitched at the weight-­conscious - boasts of being less than 100 calories and ‘free from hydrogenated fats’. But the crisps ­contain 22g of fat per 100g - which actually makes them ‘high in fat’ according to the Government’s regulations.

‘Free from hydrogenated fats’ is a red herring: No reputable manufacturer still uses these dangerous fats.

Walkers Baked cheese and onion crisps look designed for dieters and say ‘70 per cent less fat’ in big letters. But they’re not officially low-fat and they have only a few fewer calories than normal Walkers cheese and onion crisps. This is because the baked crisps have more than three times as much sugar as the regular ones, to replace the taste lost by removing oils.

Philadelphia Light Soft Cheese has half the fat of the full ­version. But it also has 30 per cent more sugar

Probiotic yoghurt drinks

Nearly 60 per cent of UK households buy probiotic yoghurt drinks, like Yakult, spending £220 million a year

Nearly 60 per cent of UK households buy probiotic yoghurt drinks, like Yakult, spending £220 million a year

Brands such as Yakult and Danone’s Actimel are the world’s most expensive yoghurts, sold to the health and diet-conscious with claims to help the digestive and the immune system.

Nearly 60 per cent of UK households buy them, spending £220 million a year.

The drinks are largely bacteria (the friendly sort), water and a lot of sugar - Actimel cherry has two-and-half teaspoonfuls in one small (100g) bottle, and Yakult nearly two in 60g.

Read full article: [link to www.dailymail.co.uk]


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