Q: I’m amazed at all the tasty low-carb cookies, cakes, and pastries at my local grocery store. Are these foods better for me than regular sweets?
– Lisa from Detroit

A: First off, we’re talking sweets here, not broccoli. So even if highly-processed, low-carb desserts and snack foods are low in carbs, they’re not the foods on which your body thrives. All highly-processed foods that use fake sugars encourage you to choose cakes and chips over strawberries and baby carrots, moving you farther away from the healthy eating habits on which sound weight management and longevity are based. With that said, you might be surprised to learn that these low-carb goodies are often no lower in calories than their originals, and a lot more expensive. When manufacturers eliminate the sugar or carbs, they often add extra fat to restore taste. Three regular chocolate chip cookies, for example, have 11 grams of sugar and 140 calories, while three low-carb ones have 10 grams of fat and 120 calories. Just as fat_free fig newtons are only 5 calories less than regular fig newtons, most low-carb versions are more hype than health. The low-carb goodies often also cost a lot more. Not much of a savings for your waistline or your pocketbook! The other problem is that you’re likely to eat more when a food is low-carb, so you end up consuming more calories. Study after study has found that when people are told that a food is fat_free, they either eat more of the food or they eat more food later in the day, more than making up for the few calories saved on the low_fat treat. The same is likely to hold true for this low-carb craze. The message to remember here is that people gain weight by eating too many calories, not just from eating carbs or fat. Just like any dessert, a little serving, once in a while is fine. But if you’re planning to shed pounds with these goodies, think again. – Elizabeth Somer