Tell me this hasn’t happened to you or your customers — you scan the shelves for something healthy and spot a something you like. After you read the nutrition label, you’re left with eyes bulging, slowly backing away from the high-fat entrée in fear of airborne calories.
Why is it that seemingly healthy dishes have so many calories or grams of fat? To answer this question, you must consider the difference between “fat” and “fattening.”
Fat is an essential macro-nutrient needed to sustain human life. It comes in a few different forms and that’s where it gets confusing. Food contains different types of fat that, as Mark Bittman explains in VB6: Vegan Before 6:00 ™ behave differently during digestion and metabolism. On the other hand, foods that are fattening are difficult for your body to break down and end up as stored body fat which leads to weight gain in the long term.
In other words, some fats are healthy and others are unhealthy. For example, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as healthy fats because they are good for your heart, cholesterol, and overall health. Examples include olives, olive oil, avocados, and almonds. Polyunsaturated fats include pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. These are easy for the body to break down, use as energy; and help our skin, hair, nails, joints, and ease digestion.
Dissimilarly, trans fats, or hydrogenated oils, found in processed foods, vegetable shortening, stick margarine, fried foods, and commercially packaged baked goods can be harmful to your body by increasing the risk of illness and elevating cholesterol.
Finally, saturated fats, usually found in meat and dairy are harder to categorize since they’ve been found to have both harmful and healthful properties. Plant-based foods containing saturated fats, like coconuts, have been shown to be extremely beneficial for the body.
Did you know that a food can be fattening and contain no fat at all? Popular fat-free foods adjust their recipes by adding in more sugar. For example, consuming a fat free yogurt that’s high in sugar causes your liver to convert all that fructose into stored body fat, contributing to weight gain in the long term.
Alternatively, Organic Avenue Coconut Yogurt contains saturated fat made up of medium-chain fatty acids that are easily broken down and used as energy. Lauric acid found in the fat of coconuts can actually help your body burn fat and increase your metabolism, too!
It’s safe to say that grams of fat or calories alone won’t tell you whether your food is fattening. Next time a customer is contemplating eating a Sunflower Falafel Wrap or even a delectable Chocolate Mousse, let them know they contain healthy fats that can nourish and energize you! In other words, they contain healthy fat but are not fattening!