You have to wonder…if one of the main ingredients in Half & Half is cream (which is perceived as fattening) then what in the world do they use to make “fat free” Half & Half? And what about mayonnaise? A recipe for homemade mayo calls for oil and eggs – both contain fat grams. So how do they make “fat free” mayonnaise? And should we really be eating it?
I was surprised to learn that there actually used to be a food industry regulation requiring manufacturers to clearly label foods like these as an “imitation”. Of course these products were looked down upon, and so it is no surprise that the ever-so-powerful food industry hated this rule. According to Michael Pollan “in 1973 [they] finally succeeded in getting the imitation rule tossed out.” Suddenly, what was once almost considered to be fraud now in some cases appeared to be even healthier than the real thing (if you are only judging by added nutrients and reduced fats that is).
Also consider that if the low fat version of a product (that doesn’t even contain any of the original ingredients) still tastes good then there is probably a reason for that too. In some cases the fattening ingredient was just replaced with a sweetener of some sort, which holds true for both fat free half & half and fat free mayo. Do we really think those versions are “healthier” than eating the whole foods themselves that inspired those products?
So here is a little list to help you make an educated decision on whether you want to consume a chemically created imitation or the real thing!
|The Imitation (including ingredients)
|The Real Thing
Full of hydrogenated oil instead of cream
|Fat Free Half and Half / Non-dairy Creamer–
Uses corn syrup instead of cream
|Original Half and Half
|Sugar substitutes –
Sweet’n Low: nutritive dextrose, soluble saccharin, cream of tartar, calcium silicate
Splenda: soluble corn fiber, maltodextrin, sucralose
|Pancake Syrup –
Aunt Jemima: full of high-fructose corn syrup instead of real maple syrup
|100% Maple Syrup
|Lemonade (sold as a powder) –
Crystal Light Pink Lemonade: citric acid, potassium citrate, maltodextrin, aspartame, magnesium oxide among other things like artificial color (I don’t even see lemon juice on this list!)
|Real Lemonade –
In the refrigerated aisle “Simply Lemonade” is made with water, natural sugar, lemon juice, and natural flavors
|Fat Free Mayonnaise –
Miracle Whip Fat Free: instead of oil it has high-fructose corn syrup
|Low-fat Salad Dressings –
Hidden Valley Fat Free Ranch: instead of oil and eggs it has high-fructose corn syrup
|Original Salad Dressings or make them from scratch
|Chocolate Syrup –
Hershey’s Syrup “Genuine Chocolate Flavor”: has some cocoa, but the main ingredient is high-fructose corn syrup
|Try an organic or more natural version from a store like Trader Joe’s or Earth Fare – or just drink white milk