LifeFoodFood For Thought: Is A Fat-Free Diet A Healthier Option?

Food For Thought: Is A Fat-Free Diet A Healthier Option?

Consumption of a high-fat diet and physical inactivity have been the major reasons for an increase in obesity. Many global trends estimate that 27.8% of Indians would be overweight and 5% would be obese by 2030. Obesity increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension and stroke. As a result, individuals have been switching to low-fat foods. But low-fat foods contain preservatives, added sugar and sodium added to increase the flavour of foods. Hence it is essential to thoroughly read the food labels before buying fat-free foods.

Myths About Low-Fat Foods

Let us look at a few misconceptions surrounding low-fat foods.

1. Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy

Some examples of low-fat foods include refined foods, sugary beverages, rice, and wheat flour. Foods low in fat are often high in sodium, flavour enhancers and carbohydrates. This can increase the risk of developing hypertension or heart diseases.

2. All Fats Are Unhealthy

All fats are not unhealthy. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are healthier fats. Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) lower levels of LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) and increase levels of HDL (High-density Lipoprotein) whereas polyunsaturated fats are not as beneficial as MUFA as they lower both LDL and HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.

3. It Is Not Important To Look At Serving Size If You Consume Fat-Free Foods

Consuming a high amount of fat-free foods can also increase the number of calories that you have consumed from the food. For instance, low-fat ice cream contains approximately 250 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving. If you consume three to four servings of low-fat ice cream you would have consumed approximately 750 calories and 9-10 grams of fat.

4. It Is Not Essential To Read Food-Labels

It is essential to read the food labels of foods that claim to be low in fat. Many of these foods are high in sodium, added sugars or high fructose corn syrup.

5. It Is Okay To Replace Fat-Free Foods with Vegetables And Fruits

Vegetables and fruits are a good source of fibre and provide satiety which helps in reducing food intake. These foods are also naturally low in fat and do not contain added flavours or sodium.

6. Avoiding Full-Fat Foods Can Benefit Your Health 

There have been many studies that have linked the benefits of consuming full-fat foods against obesity. Fats are required to produce cholesterol, hormones and also for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Moderation is the key.

7. Consuming Low-Fat Foods Aids In Weight Management

It is necessary to consume healthy fats like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids. A moderation in fat and caloric intake along with exercise can help you lose weight.

8. Saturated Fats Can Be Completely Avoided From The Diet

Excess intake of saturated fats can increase the risk of developing heart diseases and increase your cholesterol levels but moderate intake of saturated fats can increase the amount of smaller and denser LDL particles that have been linked to heart diseases.

9. Avoid Consuming High-Fat Foods During Pregnancy

Fats are required for the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and foods containing essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA are required for the brain development of the baby. Egg yolks high in fat are also rich in nutrients like choline which also aids in the baby’s brain development.

10. All Foods High In Fat Are Unhealthy

All high-fat foods are not unhealthy. Natural foods like avocados, egg yolk, nuts and milk products are a source of essential nutrients and should not be eliminated from your diet. Processed foods high in fat can be avoided.

5 Nutritional Recipes With Healthy Fats

Now that you know about the myths surrounding high-fat foods, let us look at some delicious recipes incorporating healthy fats.

1. Sprouts And Vegetable Salad

This tasty salad is a good source of fibre and phytochemicals. It can provide you with satiety and help keep you full for longer.

Cooking time:  15-20 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 50 kcals

Carbohydrates: 6 gms

Protein: 2 gms

Fat: 2 gms


  • ½ cup of bean sprouts
  • ½  cup of broccoli florets 
  • 1 medium onion (chopped finely)
  • ½ cup of capsicum (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp of celery (finely chopped)
  • 8-10 mushrooms
  • Few coriander leaves (finely chopped) (dhaniya)

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsp of olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. For the dressing, take all the ingredients and pound them to a coarser consistency. 
  2. Boil mushrooms and broccoli for 5 minutes. Keep it aside. Chop the mushrooms into smaller pieces.
  3. In a bowl, combine mushrooms, broccoli, onions, capsicum, bean sprouts and celery.
  4. Add the dressing to the salad. Garnish the salad with coriander leaves.

2. Broccoli Carrot Soup

Broccoli is a good source of vitamin A and C, while the carrot is a good source of beta carotene.

Cooking time:  15-20 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 25 kcals

Carbohydrates: 3 gms

Protein: 0.5 gms

Fat: 1 gm


  • ½  cup of broccoli florets
  • ½ cup of carrots (thinly sliced)
  • 1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tsp of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a pan, heat olive oil. Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic and saute for a few minutes.
  2. Add the broccoli along with salt and 2 cups of water. Cook for a few minutes. Serve hot. 

3. Chole Masala

This tasty gravy can go well with chapatis or puris. It is a good source of protein and fibre.

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 165 kcals

Carbohydrates: 15 gms

Protein: 7 gms

Fat: 14 gms


  • 1 cup of Kabuli chana 
  • ¼ cup of chana dal
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 big tomato (finely chopped)
  • 1 small tomato (steamed and finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 ginger piece (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder (Haldi)
  • 1 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder (dhaniya)
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 2-3 green chillies (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of amchur
  • Few coriander leaves (for garnishing)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp of canola oil


  1. Wash and soak Kabuli chana as well as chana dal overnight.
  2. Pressure cook both Kabuli chana and chana dal for 5 whistles.
  3. In a pan, heat oil. Add onion and saute for a few minutes. 
  4. Add garlic, chillies and all the spices. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add potato and tomato along with lemon juice. Mix well.
  6. Add the chana dal and Kabuli chana along with a cup of water and cook till you get a thick gravy. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot. 

4. Spinach Puri

This tasty puri can be consumed once in a while. The spinach in puri can be replaced by beetroot as well.

Cooking time:  20-25 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 100 kcals

Carbohydrates: 7.5 gms

Protein: 1.5 gms

Fat: 7 gms


  • 1 cup of spinach leaves
  • 1 ½ cup of whole wheat flour
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt to taste


  1. Wash spinach and blanch it in water for a few seconds.
  2. In a blender, blend spinach to a fine paste.
  3. In a bowl, mix whole wheat flour, spinach along with salt. Add the required amount of water and knead into a soft dough. Grease your hands with oil and rub it against the dough.
  4. In a kadhai, pour canola oil for frying.
  5. Divide the dough into balls. Roll out the balls into small puris.
  6. When the oil gets heated, add the puris. Flip the puri over and cook the other side as well till the puri turns golden brown.
  7. Take out the puris using a slotted spoon and drain them in absorbent paper.

5. Kale, Grapes & Banana Smoothie

This tasty smoothie is easy to prepare and is rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients.

Cooking time:  15-20 mins

Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

Energy: 65 kcals

Carbohydrates: 15 gms

Protein: 2 gms

Fat: 5 gms


  • ½ cup of banana slices
  • ¾ cup of green grapes (seedless)
  • ¼ cup of kale (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp of canola oil
  • ¼ cup of curd (dahi)
  • Sugar to taste (optional)


  1. In a mixer, blend all the ingredients till it achieves a smoother consistency. 
  2. Transfer the smoothie onto a glass. Enjoy!

Key Takeaways

  1. Hydrogenation increases the shelf-life of foods but this makes the foods rich in trans-fats.
  2. Consuming foods rich in trans fats can increase your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and cancer.
  3. Avoid foods made using vanaspati as they are rich in trans fats.
  4. Try cooking using oils like rice bran oil, canola oil, mustard oil and groundnut oil as these oils are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids.
  5. Oily fishes, fish supplements and nuts are a good source of Omega-3 and omega-3 helps in reducing inflammation associated with various metabolic diseases.
  6. Foods like coconut oil though high in saturated fats are a good source of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs facilitate smoother digestion and are beneficial for individuals suffering from fat malabsorption.

Tip: Click here to find differences between jowar roti vs wheat roti calories and how to include them in your diet

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