Low fat cake–the words are music to the ears of anyone on a low fat diet. However, can a cake be low in fat, be delicious, and also be healthy?
What Makes a Low Fat Cake Healthy
Low fat is only one component of healthy eating, so don’t be fooled by the label “low fat” on desserts. There is no such thing as a completely “healthy” dessert, but there are definitely unhealthy desserts. You can identify them by their contents. Whether your favorites are cake or cookies, you’re looking for recipes or ingredient lists that have:
- all natural ingredients
- low sodium content
- low sugar content
- whole grains
- high fruit and/or vegetable content
- no preservatives
What Makes a Low Fat Cake Unhealthy
If your favorite bakery cake or cake recipe is low fat, it can still be very unhealthy. Most cakes and cookies are sweet because they are high in sugar. But don’t be fooled by sugar substitutes that claim to make your treat sugarless or low in calories.
Artificial sweeteners are highly controversial and not always considered a healthy alternative. Some studies claim different artificial sweeteners are safe and have no side effects. Some even claim they won’t affect your glycemic index. But long-term, reliable results don’t exist yet. In addition, there are also a number of other ingredients you should be cautious of, even if the sugar content is relatively low. Unhealthy ingredients include:
- high fructose corn syrup
- artificial colors, sweetners or flavors
- trans fats
- saturated fats
- a high sugar content
- processed ingredients
Suggestions For Making or Finding Healthier Cakes and Cookies
As with most things, there are variable degrees of heathy when it comes to desserts. Although it’s doubtful that you’ll find a yummy dessert (that you actually love) that is considered healthy, you can find one you love that might not be considered completely unhealthy.
For example, ice cream cake can be made with all real ingredients and low-fat dairy (or sorbet products) for a healthier upgrade.
Carrot cake made from a box or purchased from a bakery is probably going to be high in sugar, made with unhealthy white flour, and high fat oil or butter. However, it also has a high content of carrots, raisins and nuts, so a few alterations can make it a lot healthier. Substitute a healthy oil (light olive or canola oil) for the butter, exchange the white flour for whole wheat, and cut back on the sugar.
When you’re looking for “healthier” low fat cakes in the grocery store, try the organic or whole foods section. They typically feature products free of unnatural chemicals, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. However, watch the sugar contents, which can still be high.
When ordering from a bakery, inquire about their healthy alternatives–whole grain flours, oatmeals, and the use of artificial sweeteners and colors. Many bakeries are willing to work with you on a healthier alternative.
When making your own, take your favorite chocolate chip cookies and start substituting healthier options for sugars, fats, and salts, and look for ways to incorporate fruits, vegetables, and healthy nuts into that recipe!