Sometimes, all we want is to have our cake and eat it too. And nowhere is this more evident than on the shelves of American supermarkets. Diet soda. Diet potato chips. Diet ice cream. But here’s a sneaky little secret of the processed food industry: many of these “diet” foods are no better, or even worse, than their full-fat, full-calorie or full-whatever alternatives. Read on to check out some of the biggest culprits.
1. Low-Fat and Dairy-Free Ice Cream.
Many premium ice cream brands offer low-fat versions. But here’s what they don’t tell you: these “low-fat” versions often contain the same amount, if not more, fat and sugar as their less expensive, regular alternatives! The same goes for many dairy-free ice creams. The takeaway? Another reminder to always read nutrition labels!
2. Baked Potato Chips.
When you bake a potato chip instead of frying it, you inevitably lose out on flavor. And how do you think food manufacturers make up for that? By adding tons of unhealthy, but technically calorie-free, salt. So, so, so much salt! Though it varies by brand, many baked potato chips contain only marginally fewer calories and fats than their fried counterpart. In short, baked potato chips are just as much of a junk food as fried potato chips; don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.
3. Skim Milk.
If you’re trying to skim calories by reaching for lighter milk, think again. Taking out fat actually removes many of the healthiest nutrients in milk — Vitamins A and D — and contains about 13 more grams of sugar than its full-fat alternative.
4. Fat-Free Salad Dressings.
When food manufacturers remove the fat in salad dressings, they have to replace the flavor somehow. And, all too often, this flavor comes from unhealthy processed ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. And, believe it or not, you could actually be sabotaging the nutritional gains from the vegetables, too, because carotenoids need fat to absorb into the bloodstream. When you skip the fat, you’re also skipping a major class of nutrients.
5. Fat-free Peanut Butter.
With just marginally fewer grams of fat, the same amount of calories, and loads of bad carbs and artificial sweeteners, fat-free peanut butter is one of the worst alternatives on the market. What’s more, the fat in regular peanut butter is unsaturated, the healthier kind of fat, not saturated fat.