Fat in food is one of the essential substances for the human body. It can provide essential fatty acids, increase the flavor of dishes, and stimulate appetite. Despite these effects, eating more is not always better. Excessive intake will increase the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and dyslipidemia. In recent years, our country has widely carried out a national healthy lifestyle campaign with the theme of “three reductions and three health”, and “reducing fuel” is an important part of it.
However, if you want to improve your eating habits, you must first obtain correct nutritional knowledge. How do Chinese consumers view oils and fats? Recently, the Kexin Food and Health Information Exchange Center conducted a special survey and found that Chinese consumers have six misunderstandings about oils and fats.
Processed foods are high in fat and unhealthy
This survey shows that nearly 70% of the respondents believe that processed foods are fatty and unhealthy.
Luo Yunbo, a professor at Beijing Technology and Business University, said that first of all, the fat content in food mainly depends on the food category and processing method. Not all processed foods are high in fat. Secondly, some processed foods also have requirements for fat content. The fat content is not the only criterion for determining whether a food is healthy, and the fat consumed by Chinese people mainly comes from cooking oil. In addition, necessary and appropriate food processing can enrich the food supply and adapt to the needs of different consumption scenarios. Processed foods can also be part of a healthy diet as long as they are properly selected and paired.
Hydrogenated vegetable oil (margarine) contains high amounts of trans fatty acids
This survey shows that 65% of the respondents are concerned about hydrogenated vegetable oil in the ingredient list and closely associate it with trans fatty acids, such as shortening, non-dairy creamer and other ingredients.
Chen Junshi, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, pointed out that a large amount of information about trans fatty acids on the Internet currently contains conceptual confusion and obvious misleading, causing Chinese consumers to overestimate the health risks of trans fatty acids. Technological innovation in recent years has enabled the trans fatty acids in products such as hydrogenated vegetable oil and refined vegetable oil to be well controlled, and has also produced alternative products such as shortening without hydrogenation. For example, coffee mate (non-dairy creamer) and cocoa butter substitute can already achieve “zero trans fatty acids”, and the trans fatty acid content in shortening, margarine and other products has also dropped significantly compared with the past. In fact, the intake of trans fatty acids by Chinese people is far below the recommended limit of the World Health Organization and significantly lower than that of Westerners, so there is no need to worry about it.
Olive oil is the best vegetable oil
The survey showed that 47% of the respondents believed that olive oil is the best vegetable oil.
Zhang Jian, a researcher at the Institute of Nutrition and Health of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reminded that the main nutritional characteristic of olive oil is its high oleic acid content, but oleic acid is not a fatty acid missing in the diet of Chinese residents. Many vegetable oils contain a certain amount of oleic acid.
In fact, whether soybean oil, peanut oil, rapeseed oil or olive oil, they are all edible vegetable oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and moderate consumption is beneficial to health.
Blended oil is not as good as animal oil
The survey shows that 53.12% and 58.03% of the respondents have a positive impression of animal oil and vegetable oil respectively, while only 25.46% of the respondents have a positive impression of blended oil.
Zhong Kai, director of the Kexin Food and Health Information Exchange Center, believes that many Chinese people like to use meat oil for cooking, and the special aroma of meat oil is often the “finishing touch” of vegetarian dishes. However, animal oil contains more saturated fatty acids, and Chinese people generally consume more saturated fatty acids. Therefore, it is better to use vegetable oil and less animal oil for cooking. Vegetable blended oil is a mixture of vegetable oils. It is more suitable for cooking than animal oil. Of course, it is not essentially different from ordinary vegetable oils such as soybean oil, peanut oil, and rapeseed oil. Controlling the total amount is the most critical.
Skim milk is healthier than whole milk
The survey shows that one-third of respondents believe that skim milk is healthier.
Wang Jiaqi, director of the Food and Nutrition Development Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said that although the dietary recommendations of some international organizations and countries are to drink skim milk, this recommendation is related to dietary structure and dairy product intake. my country’s dietary guidelines recommend that ordinary adults consume 300g to 500g of milk and dairy products every day, but the actual intake is less than one-tenth of the recommended amount and only one-fifteenth of the actual average intake in European and American countries. Therefore, for Chinese people, the primary issue is the need to increase the intake of milk and dairy products, rather than considering whether to skim.
Milk fat can carry fat-soluble vitamins, and can also bring a mellow taste, rich milk flavor and a certain feeling of satiety. For ordinary people, skimmed milk is not healthier than whole milk. Consumers can choose the corresponding products according to their personal preferences. Only those who need to strictly control their fat intake or have hypercholesterolemia should choose skim milk at their discretion.
Nuts are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and should be eaten more
The survey shows that 62% of the respondents believe that nuts are good for health and they should eat more nuts.
Ding Gangqiang, director of the Institute of Nutrition and Health at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that nut foods are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and eating them in moderation is good for health. The “Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents (2022)” recommends that the average adult eats 10 grams of nuts a day, which is approximately equivalent to a handful of melon seeds, a small handful of peanuts, or two or three walnuts. However, it should be noted that nuts have a high fat content, especially melon seeds and peanuts, which are easy to eat as “drama snacks”. It is recommended that everyone eat nuts in a handful. Text/Ruan Guangfeng (Director of Science and Technology Communication Department of Kexin Food and Health Information Exchange Center)