Fat Substitutes

To appeal to our desire for lower-fat substitutes for our favorite high-fat foods, the commercial food industry has developed low- or lower-fat versions of many foods using various fat replacers. Until recently, fat replacers always consisted of proteins or carbohydrates, such as starches or gels, but the kinds of foods that could be prepared with these fat replacers were limited by their inability to withstand the high temperatures of frying. In 1996, after a long period of development, safety testing, and governmental review, the first non-caloric fat, olestra, was approved by the FDA for use in the manufacture of savory (non-sweet) snacks (such as crackers and chips). Because olestra is a modified fat, it is the first heat-resistant fat substitute, which allows it to be used to make fried foods. In addition, olestra gives foods the flavor and creamy "mouth feel" of high-fat foods.

FDA approval of olestra was controversial for two reasons. First, this artificial ingredient, if approved and accepted, would be the first in history to be consumed in quantities comparable to the quantities of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins we currently consume from food sources. In other words, these novel, previously unknown substances could become major parts of the diets of some people, and there

Where's the Fat?

Foods That May Pack More Fat Than You Think

Food Total Fat (grams)

Saturated Fat (grams)

Calories

Butter (2 Tblsp )

23

14

200

Porterhouse steak (3 oz)

2l

8

270

Peanuts (1/4 cup)

lS

3

2l0

Cake donut (1 large)

l6

3

300

Blue cheese dressing (2 Tblsp)

l6

3

1Î0

Peanut butter (2 Tblsp)

l6

3

l90

Chocolate/peanut/ nougat candy bar (2 oz)

l4

5

270

Batter-fried chicken thigh (3 oz meat)

l4

4

240

Croissant, cheese (2 oz)

l2

6

23S

Croissant, plain (2 oz)

l2

7

230

Ice cream (1/2 cup rich vanilla )

l2

7

lS0

Cream cheese (2 Tblsp )

l0

6

l00

Milk, whole (1 cup)

S

5

1Î0

Milk, 2% (1 cup)

S

3

l20

Sour cream (2 Tblsp)

S

3

S0

Half-and-half (2 Tblsp)

3

2

40

would be no historical experience to tell us what the substances might do in our bodies. Some scientists predicted that the substance would cause serious gastrointestinal complaints despite controlled studies demonstrating its safety. However, in the first year of availability of olestra-containing foods, the predicted intestinal problems were not significant. Tests in which volunteers ate large quantities of olestra-containing potato chips or regular potato chips without knowing which type they were eating showed no differences in gastrointestinal complaints between the two groups. Second, tests of olestra showed that it inhibits the absorption of fat-soluble compounds (vitamins A, D, E, and K and some carotenoids) from foods eaten at the same time as the olestra-containing foods, whereas it has no effect on the absorption of other nutrients or on the body's stores of fat-soluble vitamins. To compensate for this effect of olestra on fat-soluble vitamin absorption, foods prepared with olestra have small amounts of these vitamins added to them. At this writing, the range of foods that can include olestra as a fat substitute is quite narrow. Some questions do remain about the long-term safety of the product, although long-term studies in young, growing animals and several studies in humans have shown no negative effects.

How should you decide whether to include foods with fat replacers in your eating plan, and how much of these foods do you include? From a health standpoint, small amounts of olestra-containing foods appear to be harmless. But from a purely nutritional standpoint, most foods that contain fat replacers are snack foods essentially devoid of nutritional benefit. In addition, these foods are not calorie-free. Many remain high in calories, and some foods that contain carbohydrate fat replacers are even higher in calories than their higher-fat counterparts, so they are still calorie-dense, nutritionally poor foods. It's fine to choose small amounts of these foods occasionally, but better low-fat snack choices include fruits, vegetables, nonfat yogurt, and whole-grain pretzels and breads.

Good Carb Diet

Good Carb Diet

WHAT IT IS A three-phase plan that has been likened to the low-carbohydrate Atkins program because during the first two weeks, South Beach eliminates most carbs, including bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit and most dairy products. In PHASE 2, healthy carbs, including most fruits, whole grains and dairy products are gradually reintroduced, but processed carbs such as bagels, cookies, cornflakes, regular pasta and rice cakes remain on the list of foods to avoid or eat rarely.

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