Cut the Fat, Bring on the Spice!
It sounds like common sense, but adding some common herbs or spices to reduced-fat meals boosts the food’s appeal and interest. And makes low-fat foods taste better.
Fat is a necessary part of everyone’s diet, but Americans tend to get too many of their daily calories from fat. Experts recommend no more than 30% of calories should come from fats, but American fare often tops out at 40% or more. And all fats are not created equal. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats—primarily from plant sources—are heart healthy. Saturated fats, and especially artificial trans-fats, are not.
Fat is not the enemy. We require fats in the diet for many reasons. Omega-3 fatty acids, from foods like salmon or tuna, are especially healthful, as they are anti-inflammatory in the body, and many of us get too few of these essential nutrients. But cutting back to the 30%-of-daily-calories target is a great way to reduce calories and ensure you’re getting good nutrition.
Now researchers at the Institute of Food Technologists have proven that it’s possible to make up for perceived loss of culinary appeal when you lower fat content by adding common household spices and herbs to your food. And the researchers didn’t get too exotic, either. They used things like oregano, garlic, onion and paprika, to make lower-fat and/or lower-calorie meals more appealing to consumers. And it worked. A full-fat meal and a reduced-fat meal with seasonings scored the same on a standardized scale of the food’s appeal. Which proves what I’ve been saying all along: You can eat healthfully, while still enjoying your food, with just a little effort. What the researchers didn’t mention is that many herbs and spices bring their own phytochemical benefits to the table. Oregano, for example, contains hundreds of compounds, and about half of them have been shown to be anti-inflammatory. Others feature a broad range of antioxidant compounds.
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) (2013, July 15). Spicing up food can make up for missing fat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/07/130715134640.htm