Body & Fitness

Steer clear of ‘healthy’ dips and spreads

They are widely regarded as ‘healthy’ options, guilt-free alternatives to snacks such as crisps and chocolate.

But most of us are unaware that many of the dips and spreads, such as hummus, that we believe are better for us are in fact very high in calories, a survey has shown.

The World Cancer Research Fund study revealed a ‘troubling’ lack of knowledge regarding the calorie content of foods.

A survey conducted for the charity found two thirds of Britons underestimate the number of calories in hummus.

The dip, made from chickpeas, contains on average 332 calories per 100g – more than  10 per cent of the recommended daily intake for women.

But, despite exceeding the ‘high’ level of ‘energy density’ as defined by the WCRF, which applies to food containing more than about 225 calories per 100g, it is widely considered to be ‘healthy’.

The YouGov poll of 2,000 people also found that only 29 per cent knew that even reduced-fat mayonnaise was high in calories.

It has an average of 259 per 100g. And while many underestimated the energy content of less healthy snacks, a fifth of those polled overestimated the calorie count in bananas.

They described the fruit as high in calories, when it in fact contains only 95 per 100g.

The WCRF said the lack of calorie awareness was a concern because of the many diseases associated with being overweight or obese, which include cancer.

A spokesman said: “It seems a lot of people are still confused about the calorie content of everyday foods.”

“This troubling lack of understanding is perhaps not helped by labels such as ‘light’ and ‘reduced fat’ when these are applied to foods which still have a high calorie content.”

“At this time of year many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight but to do this it is important that they understand how to determine whether a food is high in calories.”

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