Many of your diet favourites may be worse for your waistline than you think, according to nutritionists. These include honey, olive oil, fruit juice, and low-fat yogurt.
Fruit juice is “the fastest way to gain weight”, said nutritionist Catherine Matthews. “It takes less than a minute for most people to drink 150 calories.”
Another issue is fruit juice’s lack of fibre. When we eat fruit, fibre forms a protective layer that acts as a barrier to the intestine. This slows absorption of sugar, so the liver can deal with the sugar steadily.
In fizzy drinks, fruit juices and smoothies, the barrier has gone, which leads to the liver being overloaded.
This triggers two things: first, this overload provides a sudden burst of energy that quickly tapers off, leading to what many experts describe as a “sugar crash”. This can cause many people to end up feeling lethargic, irritable and even more hungry than they did before.
Second, the high levels of fructose – fruit sugar – that are not burned off are converted to fat. And if you thought smoothies were better, you’d be wrong.
Matthews explained: “You may think a fruit or veggie smoothie is packed with vitamins and minerals, but it is (like juice) also laden with sugar. Some contain as much sugar as fizzy drinks.”
A recent study revealed that many “healthy” drinks are actually worse for you than cakes and biscuits. It found that a single serving of so-called healthy fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as three and a half doughnuts, or 13 biscuits. It also revealed that a single 250ml serving of white grape juice contains the same amount of sugar as four glazed doughnuts.
Matthews said olive oil was the worst offender as, despite its health-giving properties, it was oil and every teaspoon contained about 50 calories.
She warned about other diet-busters such as honey, which was extremely high in sugar, and low-fat yoghurts and biscuits, which sometimes contained more calories than the full-fat versions. Sugar is added to make up for flavour lost when fat is taken out.
However, these are not the only potential dangers for dieters – slimmers are also being warned to watch out for wine.
While a glass or two can have some health benefits, a large glass can contain as many as 225 calories.
THE UNLIKELY OFFENDERS
* FRUIT JUICE is dense in calories – there are just 150 in a small glass – and contains no fibre, so it can cause a “sugar crash”, leaving many lethargic and hungry.
SWOP FOR: Sugar-free squash or dilute the juice if you can’t give juice up. Try eating fruit instead to boost fibre and slow the body absorbing sugar.
* OLIVE OIL may be good for you but contains 50 calories in just one teaspoonful.
SWOP FOR: Olive oil in a spray cuts the amount of calories by about 90 percent.
* BROWN BREAD is not always high in fibre. Many companies use dyes to make their bread look healthier.
SWOP FOR: Fibre-rich wholemeal or wholegrain bread.
* ‘LOW-FAT’ foods are often pumped full of sugar to make the fat-free product taste better.
SWOP FOR: The original version if it’s lower in calories. Have a look at the nutritional information on the packet and compare – you may be surprised.
* DRIED FRUIT AND NUTS are a great source of fibre, but most dried fruit is coated in sugar and nuts with salt.
SWOP FOR: Unsalted nuts, small boxed portions of dried fruit or a single piece of fruit such as a peach or a banana.
* GRANOLA contains a combination of wholegrains, nuts and seeds, but just a small portion of the cereal contains high levels of fat and sugar.
SWOP FOR: Sugar-free muesli or bran flakes. If you can’t part with granola, mix with bran flakes to boost fibre and reduce calories.