Ask Marilyn – Star Question: are oatcakes really good for me?

Q: I thought that oatcakes were a healthy snack, but was surprised to see that the nutritional information on the packet shows them to be high in calories, fat and particularly saturated fat.  They are even labelled as red for fat under the traffic light scheme.  Should I avoid them and can you suggest any alternatives?

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A: Depending on the brand of oatcake they can include different ingredients.  Although they are a savoury food some will even contain sugar.  And then of course the fat content will change if cheese has been added to the oatcake.  In general, one oatcake is only 43 calories which is not a lot at all when you think that the guideline daily amount for women is 2000.  The oatcakes I have at home contain sunflower oil which is unsaturated but also palm oil which is saturated.  The guidelines for saturated fat is that a product is high (red traffic light) if it contains more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g.  100g of oatcakes which is nearly half the box contains 4.4g per 100g, so it is on the high side., but it is also the amount you eat of that food that is also important. 

There has been controversy over whether the saturated fat in palm oil can increase the risk of heart disease but research has shown that palm oil on its own does not increase cholesterol. But if the diet also contains trans fats (as well as the palm oil) then total cholesterol increases along with LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and HDL (‘good’) cholesterol decreases.

Oatcakes do have a low glycemic index , which means that they are release energy slowly and do not cause fast rises in blood sugar so I would suggest that you continue to eat them, but as with anything, in moderation. 



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