advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
What Does Fat-Free Really Mean?

I frequently use a fat-free spray that tastes like butter and has no calories. I spray it on bread, vegetables, popcorn, etc. Is this spray bad for me?

A
Answer (Published 2/22/2010)

You raise an interesting question. I did some research to find out about these products and what they actually contain. While the nutritional labels do state that they contain zero fat and zero calories, something more than just air comes out when you spray. A little checking produced some illuminating information about how manufacturers and marketers can legally claim that products have no fat or calories, when the opposite is true.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness for Your Healthy Body - It's the journey not the destination. Make each day count, with an outlook that is both serene and inspired. Dr. Weil's new website, SpontaneousHappiness.com, has everything you need to get on the path to optimal well-being including recipes, checklists and exclusive tools to track your walking. Learn more, start your 10-day free trial now.

The FDA permits foods to be labeled "fat-free" if they contain less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. The labels of some products I checked said that a single serving is one spray providing 0.2 grams (2 tenths of a gram) of the product for cooking and five sprays when you're using it as a topping. I found calculations showing that to get a single 0.2 gram serving you would have to spritz for about one-third of a second, something that is almost impossible to time. If you spritz for five seconds, you'll be adding as many as 35 calories of fat to your food.

Looking at the ingredients list, I saw that one product contains water, soybean oil, buttermilk, salt, soy lecithin and polyglycerol, esters of fatty acids (emulsifiers), xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate (to preserve freshness) lactic acid (acidulant), artificial flavor, and beta-carotene for color.

Refined soybean oil, the second ingredient on the list, is a cheap vegetable oil that we should all avoid¸ because it is responsible for the excess of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids in the mainstream diet.

In any case, recent research indicates that an extreme emphasis on low-fat foods in pursuit of cardiovascular health may be misplaced; it appears that sugar and flour are bigger culprits. My preference would be to use a small amount of olive oil for flavoring - you can put it in a pump bottle to cut down on the amount you use; for cooking, you can use a pastry brush to add it to a pan. As for popcorn, I like it sprinkled with a little tamari, some nutritional yeast, garlic powder and, sometimes, cayenne pepper. Or try it with chili powder, a little grated Parmesan cheese or dried dill. If you don't use oil, mist the popcorn lightly with a little purified water before adding dry flavorings to help them stick.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here