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Warning over 'healthy' snack alternatives

REGISTERED NUTRITIONIST Charlotte Stirling-Reed and Wren Kitchens have conducted a study of so-called 'healthy' snacks, which produced results including the fact that beetroot, parsnip and carrot snacks (or, vegetable crisps) could actually contain more fat and saturated fat than ordinary branded crisps, a Mars bar and a Krispy Kreme doughnut?

Stirling-Reed said:

“As a nutritionist, I’ve seen this first hand in weight loss clinics where clients may eat even as much as double a portion size of a product if it’s perceived to be healthy.”

With 27% of adults in England classified as obese and a further 36% overweight, food and ingredients are coming under more scrutiny than perhaps ever before in the UK.

Stirling-Reed continued:

“The concern with products that are often seen as ‘healthier alternatives’ such as vegetable crisps, is they don’t always match up to their reputations. Crisps are crisps, and even if they are made with vegetables, they are likely to contain too much in the way of fat, saturated fat and salt. In fact, the vegetable crisps here have higher levels of saturated fat and salt than some well-known, regular crisp brands."

The nutritionist went on to explain a challenge experienced by some food manufacturers:

“Often, when ingredients such as salt, sugar or fat are taken out of a food, it can lead to changes in the texture, taste, mouthfeel and shelf life of a product. This means that manufacturers are constantly looking for suitable alternatives to ensure that foods don’t lose their acceptability with consumers.

“Sweeteners have been a controversial issue in the UK and Europe for a number of years. They are used in foods as a replacement to sugar and therefore replicate a sweet taste. There is some argument that to reduce sugar intakes it would be best to reduce the ‘sweetness’ we have become accustomed to in our foods, but we don’t have enough research to make any solid recommendation on this.”

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