The market these days is inundated with products that claim to be healthy and fat-free. From yogurt and sodas, to biscuits and Namkeens, health foods are a trend that has literally taken the market by storm. While people are madly rushing to stock up on these foods, we wonder how much of their ‘claim to fame’ is true. We asked some of the leading experts in the field of nutrition and health for their expert opinion on this matter.
Isi Khosla, Clinical Nutritionist and Founder-Wholefoods India, and Founder President-Celiac Society for Delhi
Eating less fat, less sugar, less cholesterol and food additives is certainly not a bad idea, but do all of these foods deliver what they promise? Foods are marketed on the basis of what they have.
Fat-free but sugar-laden breakfast cereals are marketed as healthy breakfast foods. For example- refined oils ripped off their essential fats, chemically treated and finally hydrogenated are sold as cholesterol-free and even, at times, fat-free.
The latest to hit the supermarkets and grocery shelves are the so-called diet foods. The foods in this list include everything- right from diet potato chips, to Namkeens, mithais, biscuits, cakes, chocolates, ice-creams, drinks- and even rice. These days, just about anything can be sold with a health tag attached to it. This trend needs to be checked by educating consumers and producers to be ethical and accountable in their claims. This is possible by active media participation and government regulation.
Sonia Bajaj, Fitness and Nutrition Coach
All the packed food should actually be named as “processed food”. These are in the form of Namkeens, chips, biscuits, etc. They are basically full of additives’ but deprived and stripped of nutrients. These snacks are filled with such ingredients- which can prove to be very harmful for our health. Few of them are:
- Artificial flavours
- Factory created fats or trans fat
These foods are not only high in calories but also in sugar and sodium which may lead to problems like edema, constipation and obesity, to name a few. Biscuits have high levels of saturated fats and trans fats which lead to high levels of blood cholesterol. The way these products are advertised make them tempting too. However, we have to understand that- longer the shelf life, the more dangerous these packed foods can be for us- as whatever has been used to make these food last longer, goes inside our bodies. Instead, it is advisable to snack on natural and healthy foods.
These days, just about anything can be sold with a health tag attached to it.
Anjali Mukherjee, Nutritionist, Founder and Director- Healthy Total, Mumbai
One should be very careful before picking up packaged and processed foods off the rack. Being healthy and fit takes a lot of work, and simply shifting from regular chips to diet ones will not solve anything. Take diet sodas, for example. No sodas are healthy as they contain several flavouring agents which make the beverage acidic. So, it’s alright if you take a diet soda once in a while but one can’t expect to have it on a regular basis and still stay healthy and fit. So, don’t blindly trust the catchy advertisements or the flashy packaging. Read between lines and make informed choices as a consumer.