Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

Revenge of real foods on light foods

Low-fat milk, light butter, fat-free cheeses, lean meats, mayonnaise without oil, sugar-free biscuits and so on are some of the many “light” and “-free” foods whose days, for various reasons, seem to be numbered.
The first reason is that they have not had the hoped-for results as consumers, to the great pleasure of sellers and producers, often tend to eat larger quantities of lean or light food but with a terrible effect on their diet being merely excuses to binge, with the thought that “after all, they’re light”.
Moreover, many important properties are especially lost in making natural foods “light”. A typical example is that of low-fat milk– with the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K – in which its natural fat that facilitate their absorption is removed. The fat in whole cow’s milk also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) with its anticancer benefits. The same is true for fat meat where the structural, not the covering lipids contain unsaturated acids that have nutritional benefits. Let us not forget the purified and ultra-refined cereal flours, deprived of the germ and especially of the soluble fibers necessary for a well-functioning large intestine. 
By making “light” foods, a sometimes important part of their genuineness is taken away. The color, aroma and taste of the good natural milk actually depend on the fat that is reduced or taken away, while processing and especially long conservation decreases the non-liposoluble portion.
The “light” food processes modify the food’s integrity and originality, substituting their original typical characteristics with a commercialized industrial anonymity of a food-commodity.
In making “light” food, it is often forgotten that the role and especially the biological and metabolic meaning of a single ingredient also depends on its being contained by the food, as demonstrated by what was considered such an anomaly that the French Paradox, Dutch Paradox and Scandinavian Paradox arose. By studying these paradoxes, for example, the role of such medium- and short-chain saturated fatty acids as the butyric acid contained in milk, cream, butter and cheese has been revalued.
Nor should the fact be ignored that “light” foods with certain nutrients removed are often enriched with others. Consequently, industrial food with reduced quantities of fat may contain high quantities of sugar in order to be sufficiently palatable.
Moreover, we should not forget nor underrate the ambiguous truths on the labels, in which the words “without added sugar” can hide the presence of foods that, by their nature, are sugary. 
Many of the delicate balances that exist between food ingredients whose production derives from living animals and plants are altered when “light” foods are made, and cannot be easily substituted by artificial supplements. If a “light” food is then “enriched” with synthetic minerals or vitamins, their reciprocal relations are probably not respected. Moreover, the synthetic molecules are not identical to the natural ones, especially as regards their bioavailability. Organic iron has a much higher absorption factor than the iron contained in an inorganic molecule that furthermore may influence and cause unwelcome, even negative side effects on gut flora (gut microbiota).
For all these reasons and many more, including public opinion also accepted by food production and distribution structures, the whole milk sales compared to those of skimmed milk are rising, as well as the sales of many other “real foodstuffs”, and light foodstuffs are giving way to real food.
It is better to eat small quantities of natural and genuine foods with their original characteristics rather than larger quantities of food-stuffs that have been manipulated and deprived of even their cultural originality.