A study commissioned by Upfield Lanka, helped understand misconceptions about fat-based and plant-based diets which are wrongly believed by 300 consumers across different socio-economic segments in Sri Lanka.
Out of 300 individuals, 95% believed that consumption of fat-based products leads to weight gain. The truth is that weight gain can be controlled by consuming moderate levels of all foods and gaining weight cannot be prevented by cutting off fats. According to the World Health Organization, fats are an essential macro nutrient and adults should consume 15-35% of fats for their total daily energy intake.
These dietary fats provide our daily energy requirement and dissolve fat soluble vitamins K, A, D, E. The trick here is to limit the intake of bad saturated fats and increase good unsaturated fats that are essential for the human diet. Unsaturated fats such as essential Omegas 3 and 6 helps maintain blood cholesterol levels and is essential for heart health. These essential fats cannot be produced by our body, so it is important to consume them for our daily diets through plant-based fats like sunflower oil, canola oil, soybeans, and avocados.
A staggering 85% were under the impression that coconut oil and palm oil have different impacts on health. The truth is that both coconut and palm oil are similar vegetable oils that are good for consumption. However, both contain high amounts of saturated fats, therefore these oils should be used in limited quantities. At the same time, both coconut and palm oil have similar nutritional characteristics and are safe for moderate levels of consumption. Make sure not to deep fry with the same oil too many times. Coconut oil can be used for maximum 2-3 times for deep frying, but palm oil should only be used once.
Similarly, the confusion surrounding the manufacturing process of margarine and fat spreads had 63% of those surveyed convinced that these products are highly processed and unnatural. However, plant-based margarines are produced with plant oils that are blended with simple natural ingredients like water and salt, and then cooled and churned. In fact, this process is so simple that, with the right ingredients, fat spreads can even be made at home, to try this out, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQuwvwRIpmg&t=71s.
Meanwhile, 33% of the individuals thought plant-based margarines were less healthy than dairy butter and 44% believed vegetable oil-based spreads are not good. In most cases, plant-based fat spreads and margarine are fortified with nutrients such as Vitamins A and D, which are imperative for normal bone health and eyesight. Plant-based fat spreads and margarines such as Astra and Flora produced using plant-based oils with full hydrogenation or interesterification processes are virtually trans-fat free. On the other hand, according to the UK Government Composition of foods integrated dataset (CoFID) database in 2021 and the UK Government Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), dairy products inherently contain trans fats, when inherent cholesterol levels are considered, dairy products have cholesterol coming from the milk of the cows. However, plant-based oils do not contain cholesterol which is another positive side of plant-based fat spreads or margarines. When considering all these facts, it can be said that plant-based fat spreads are a healthier alternative.
With so much access to varying sources on the web, it’s no wonder people gain misconceptions regarding the health benefits of fat-based products and plant-based diets. As the number 1 plant-based food company in the world, Upfield, the mother company of Astra and Flora brands, try to educate and debunk the myths around nutrition for better understanding of health and informed consumers. To know more about Upfield, check Upfield.com and the visit AstrasriLanka.com and FlorasriLanka.com to learn more about the products they offer.