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5 Pointless Food Substitutes

5 Pointless Food Substitutes

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.

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Read more: Appetizers & Snacks, Basics, Desserts, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Entrees, Food, Green Kitchen Tips, Health, Vegan, Vegetarian, , ,

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
1:00AM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

Thank you for sharing!

2:35AM PST on Jan 27, 2014

And its not as tasty.

11:57PM PST on Jan 26, 2014

great to know! thanks so much for sharing!

1:49PM PST on Dec 21, 2013

Thank you Katie.

1:44PM PST on Dec 21, 2013

I'm done having to read every label.
Soon there wil be nothing left, that some story hasn't ripped in to! O_o

11:56PM PST on Dec 19, 2013


12:28AM PST on Dec 10, 2013

Didn't know that about skimmed milk.

1:45PM PST on Dec 9, 2013

Thank you for this, I have noticed that lower fat often doesn't mean lower calories. The one thing that I didn't know about was the effect that reducing the fat had on milk. I'm going to check that one out very carefully the next time I go shopping.

6:12AM PST on Dec 2, 2013

This is aewsome. Thanks.

1:16AM PST on Nov 29, 2013

Well now I won't feel as bad when I reach for the 2% milk rather than skim.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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