Cookies can be a delicious sweet treat. Whether they’re freshly baked or prepackaged, they’re always a delight to eat and are usually packed with flavor. There are also so many kinds of cookies to choose from; from classics like chocolate chip, to more unique flavors like strawberry shortcake. And it may come as a surprise, but there are even such things as healthy cookies that can help aid weight loss without losing the tastiness.
Although that seems too good to be true, there still are cookies out there that can cause weight gain, especially abdominal fat. According to Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, and member of our medical expert board, one of the worst cookies to eat that can cause abdominal fat are sandwich cookies.
“These are ultra-processed and full of unhealthy ingredients,” says Young.
Have you ever wondered why these cookies could last in your pantry for so long without going bad? It’s because they’re filled with tons of added sugar—sugar that food manufacturers add to products to increase flavor or extend shelf life.
A standard prepackaged sandwich cookie involves two wafers with some sort of filling in between. The wafers can be different flavors or made from different ingredients. The filling can also be different types, including cream, jam, ganache, or lemon curd.
Although these cookies sound like a dessert indulgence heaven, it’s all made using highly-processed ingredients. These cookies, if consumed regularly, can lead to many problems with your body. Some of these problems include developing wrinkles, type 2 diabetes, and of course, weight gain.
“Without realizing it, you are getting extra calories, added sugar, and fat in these types of cookies. And the ‘filling’ gives you an added dose of corn syrup and artificial ingredients,” says Young.
In research done by Princeton University, it was discovered that high-fructose corn syrup causes significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar. The study also showed that long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also leads to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen.
According to Harvard Health Medical School, along with high-fructose corn syrup, other added sugars to look for on the ingredients label are brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, and syrup sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).
Since most sandwich cookies contain high fructose corn syrup, or other processed sugars, it’s best to stay away from the ultra-processed, fake sugary stuff. So, what’s the alternative to artificial cookies?
“Want a cookie once in a while? Choose a homemade version of your favorite type and practice portion control,” says Young.