5 Weeks to Healthy Eating

Are Fat-Free Foods Really the Way to Go?

Some experts will tell you that high-fat foods are unhealthy and that fat-free foods are the better way to go. In our opinions, nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the healthiest and most flavorful foods on the planet -- nuts, olive oil, salmon, peanut butter, and avocados -- are rich in health-enhancing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and we wouldn't give them up for the world. We firmly believe that if fat-free foods were really better for our overall health, then obesity and heart disease wouldn't be as rampant as they are today. Take fat-free cookies for example. Because they can lose some of their appeal when all the fat is removed, food manufacturers often replace the fat with more sugar. The result, ironically, is a cookie that contains about the same number of calories as the original. Since fat-free cookies are often perceived as healthier, people tend to eat more of them and hence consume more calories. Fat-free cheeses are another case in point where less is not necessarily better. We recently experimented with fat-free ricotta cheese for our Squishy Squash Lasagna (page 182). The fat-free version was lacking in flavor and had a somewhat grainy texture. In the end, we compromised and went for the reduced-fat ricotta. We managed to eliminate much of the saturated fat but kept the creaminess.

While it's always our goal to cut the unnecessary calories and as much artery-clogging saturated fat as possible, we would never tell you to eliminate foods rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats -- the types that promote good health.

Excerpted from The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers by Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, and Liz Weiss, MS, RD Copyright? 2003 by Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, and Liz Weiss, MS, RD. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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