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Low-Fat, but Higher Carbs?

When looking at a food label, you might automatically think that the low-fat option may be the better choice for your health and overall managing your diabetes. But low-fat may not always be the best option for certain foods.

Low-fat but more sugar

Food items like yogurt and salad dressings which are labeled “low-fat” usually have something else in common as well. These low-fat foods have a higher amount of added sugars and therefore more carbs when compared to their “traditional” products. This is because fat naturally brings out the flavor in foods. There is a scientific reason that Brussel sprouts taste better with a little bit of bacon!

By removing the fat and creating low-fat alternatives, food companies add sugar to bring back some of that lost flavor. Unfortunately, additional added sugar means more simple carbohydrates, which has a drastic effect on blood sugars.

The added sugar in yogurt is typically added in the form of sucrose- table sugar, or hidden by adding more fruit syrup to the yogurt. While fruit is a carbohydrate, the fiber from the skin and “meaty” portion of the fruit slows digestion and does not affect blood sugars as rapidly as fruit juice or fruit syrup which do not contain the fiber from the fruit. This way, you are getting all the sugar, without any of the other benefits of fruit in your yogurt to add back flavor!

Not all food products have a higher amount of sugar in their low-fat products, but reading the nutrition labels and comparing products to one another is a great way to keep an eye out for hidden added sugars.

For yogurts, buying the plain yogurt with no added sugar is a guarantee that you can control the amount of carbohydrates you are eating.

Not ready to try plain yogurt just yet? Try adding half a banana or a small drizzle of honey to monitor the amount of sugar you add into your yogurt, while still eating fewer carbohydrates than the pre-mixed yogurts.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.