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Jun 25, 2007 03:23 PM

What's wrong with "full-fat"??

I was reading somethings and became curious, what's wrong with "fat"? Why is everything non-fat or low-fat these days? I went to the supermarket the other day and 90% of the yogurt there was non-fat or low-fat and only a few were full-fat. Even most baked goods are low-fat, etc. I know I sound really ignorant.. but is "fat" really that bad?? Would drinking full-fat milk instead of low-fat milk really kill me faster? Obviously if your health condition requires low-fat diet, it's a must. But the overwhelming prevalence of the non-fat items in the market really puzzles me. It seems disproportional to the actual number of people who are affected by fat-related health conditions.. As long as one is not consuming pork belly every night and always eats in moderation even when eating pork belly, there shouldn't be a big problem, or am I just kidding myself? If not health-related, is it because we live in a diet-culture? Is consuming full-fat milk a sure way to be obese??

Please enlighten me. I know some people say non-fat tastes just like full-fat or even better, but I'm yet to find this to be true and I'm irked every time I go to the market and have to squint and search to find full-fat products.. Maybe I missed some important study on the horrors of fat.. if so please tell me..

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  1. Maybe you've heard of the obesity epidemic? Unless you have a specific health condition, the fat itself isn't the problem, it's the calories. A gram of fat has more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate (9 vs. 4), so "full fat" foods are going to use up a lot of your caloric allotment for the day. In addition, the fat in most of the food you mentioned is saturated fat, which contributes to high cholesterol levels.

    Basically, I can't afford to eat "ordinary" servings of full-fat foods on a regular basis if I want to be a healthy weight. But I have to eat something, and so it's nice to have the option of eating low-fat versions of many foods, some of which have important nutrients (like calcium in dairy products) and then save the full-fat versions for "splurges." If you don't have to watch your calories or your cholesterol, you're very young, very lucky (or both).

    I grew up drinking nonfat milk, and I actually prefer it -- I find milk with fat too be too "sticky" to be refreshing or thirst quenching.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I admit I will buy lower-fat verions of items (sour cream, 2% milk, yogurt...though mainly b/c that's the most frequently available). Some things are ok with lower fat content...though I never buy nonfat. Also, the lower the fat content the higher the sugar content. I never shy away from really cheeses, butter, nuts, avocadoes, etc. I believe full fat satisfies you more and therefore results in eating less of the product. Lower-fat items can lead you to feeling deprived of flavor and you also tend to eat more since it is "low-fat" and end up consuming the same amount of calories anyway. I just say eat in moderation and eat naturally...the amount of fat is really not all that important.

    2. I'm taking a middle-of-the-road view on this. I agree that there are some excesses in the low-fat department, to the point where we're ruining perfectly wonderful foods (like cheese).

      That said, we're a society of convenience and our lives just aren't active enough to justify eating full-fat stuff all the time like our ancestors did. And let's face it, a lot of restaurants (not just fast-food ones) add unnecessary fat to food - I mean, do we really need a cream-bacon-cheese sauce on anything??

      The compromise: I'll eat low-fat or non-fat as a default, as long as it doesn't kill the flavour of the food. In most cases, it doesn't. I limit, but don't exclude, natural fats like nuts and avocados. Once in a while, I splurge on something fried or rich.

      1 Reply
      1. re: piccola

        Yeah, cheese is definitely something I'll eat "full-fat" or not at all (unless it's a type of cheese that's naturally low fat). Most low-fat cheese is awful, both the taste and the texture.

      2. There are people who avoid saturated fats for health reasons--family history of heart disease, diabetes management, etc. For these folks, fat free versions of dairy products can be a godsend, allowing them to at least have something rather than cutting a whole food group out of their diets. Some doctors say that once you're past childhood, there's no reason to drink full fat milk anymore. Some say even kids beyond the age of five shouldn't be drinking that much saturated fat.

        Fat has nine calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates have four calories (and alcohol seven, but that's another subject!) Some people avoid full fat products where alternatives are available to save calories. Some people have trouble digesting certain fats, like the saturated kind, and get, er, symptoms if they eat the full fat version.

        I eat full fat versions of some things (cheese, sour cream) but prefer lowfat milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. I think a lot of my preference has to do with the quantity. I don't eat a lot of cheese or sour cream, as they're sort of like condiments, well not condiments, but maybe you get the idea. I really prefer a whole cup of yogurt to those 6 oz. or smaller cups, even if it's the full fat kind. It's just more satisfying to have eight ounces, but I also mostly eat plain, so maybe that's part of why, too.

        1. I refuse to eat any low- and no-fat products, opting only for full-fat versions. I do not feel confident that the chemicals that are added to compensate for the reduced fat are safer than the fat themself, or that they result in weight loss: when I cut artificial flavours and preservatives out of my diet, I lost an extraordinary amount of weight (75 lbs) in a year without doing a significant amount of exercise.

          I think the prevalence of low- and no-fat products are indicative of the fact that a huge chunk (puns not intended) of North American society is unable to exercise moderation and self-control in portion size or dedicate the time to physical activity.

          I am frequently frustrated by how hard it is to find full-fat versions of food, especially dairy. I try to stick to organic markets, where they don't usually have the option of relying on chemicals to make up for the taste loss, and it seems much easier to find things there.

          5 Replies
          1. re: vorpal

            Dairy products don't necessarily have any "chemicals added to compensate for the reduced fat" -- they just remove the fat using mechanical means. People have been removing the fat from milk for various reasons and purposes probably as long as they've been milking animals. Of course, if you're talking about commercial quality products with additives, that's another issue, but that has more to do with the producer putting out a poor-quality product than it does with whether its nonfat or not -- full-fat yogurts can have just as many additives.

            While I applaud your healthy eating regime, let's make a distinction between things like Snackwells and nonfat milk.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              True, people have been removing fat from things like milk for ages, but when you're talking about foods like sour cream, if you compare the ingredient lists between no-fat and full-fat versions, the no-fat versions ALWAYS contain additives like various gums, carrageenan, modified milk ingredients, etc. At least, I've never seen a no-fat product without these, no matter the quality. (I have seen low-fat without, but it's rare.) The full-fat versions sometimes do contain them, but also frequently don't. There must be a reason for this, and while I'm not knowledgeable to make definite assertions, I've heard (and strongly suspect) that these are for texture and taste purposes.

              1. re: vorpal

                Low-fat or fat-free milk is one thing - it doesn't change the essential quality of the milk (the thing that makes it milk...) but fat-free sour cream?! Fat-free cream cheese? Please... there is no way on earth that either of those products could be made outside of a laboratory (and they taste AWFUL) I'd rather just not use the stuff at all, than use fake food.

                1. re: Kajikit

                  You hit the nail on the head: it's all about whether lower fat versions change the essential nature of a food. I think that oftentimes, it's like vegetarian food: I like meat, but, I detest vegetarian food that pretends to be meat. On the other hand, I love lots of veggie foods (i.e. S. Indian) that are secure in their vegetarian form and don't attempt to be anything else.

                2. re: vorpal

                  You should take a glance at the label on Fage non-fat yogurt if you have yet to see a non-fat product without additives. I won't eat non-fat cheese or sour cream, but I'll definitely eat things like the non-fat Fage.

            2. There's nothing wrong with fat, basically. Its the amount one consumes. The lower fat varieties are for those who want to consume quantities of something larger than the "full fat" varieties would allow in the same quantity and still maintain weight or health.

              I think thats basically it. With the exception of low fat milk and lowfat sour cream (only the Daisy brand, though, as most of the others have all kinds of stuff added) I don't bother with them.

              All food and all intake is really about portion sizes, frequency and exercise. By which I mean that you can eat a small amount of just about anything. You just can't eat a large amount or even a "normal sized amount" (whatever that means anymore) of everything. There's no one right answer for everyone, but those are the basic elements people have to pay attention to.