Advent: cheap and health-endangering substitutes in Christmas cookies
There is often a lot of feasting in the Advent season. Unfortunately, treats like stollen, dominoes and gingerbread can be a health hazard. And not just because of the high calorie content, but also because of the cheap and harmful substitutes that are often used for Christmas cookies.
Palm oil, persipan, pork gelatin: Stollen, dominoes and other Christmas delicacies often contain cheap substitutes instead of traditional, high-quality ingredients. This has been shown by comparisons by the Schleswig-Holstein Consumer Center.
Ingredients of Christmas specialties compared
According to a message, the consumer advice center examined a total of 72 Christmas specialties in various supermarkets and drugstores and compared the ingredients they contain.
According to the information in this market check, everything was on the list that fits on the classic colorful plate for Christmas: dominoes, marzipan breads, gingerbread and much more.
"At first glance, the list of ingredients looks similar, but when we looked closely, we discovered big differences," explains food expert Selvihan Koç. "Many products contain cheap substitutes such as persipan and palm oil instead of marzipan or butter."
Pork gelatin in cinnamon stars
As the consumer center explains, marzipan consists of almonds and sugar. It is often replaced by cheaper Persipan, which tastes similar to marzipan but is made from ground apricot or peach seeds.
"The taste of Persipan can pretend that it contains marzipan," says Selvihan Koç. For example: During the market check for dominoes from various manufacturers, the experts discovered apricot kernels and persipan in eight of nine products.
Christmas cookies can also contain other ingredients that consumers do not suspect. For example, pork gelatin is found in five of six tested ingredient lists for cinnamon stars.
Fat pollutants in cheap palm oil
With the exception of butter stollen, butter can only be found in a few products. Over a third of the Christmas candies compared contain palm oil instead. According to the consumer advice center, this vegetable oil is one of the cheapest and most commonly used fats.
Tropical rainforest is being cut down for production. In most cases, it is not clear whether palm oil comes from sustainable production. Consumers rely on voluntary labels and information from the providers. According to the consumer advice center, however, these do not create sufficient transparency for consumers.
Palm oil also contains fatty pollutants such as 3-monochloropropanediol fatty acid ester (3-MCPD) and is suspected of being carcinogenic. The consumer advice center therefore advocates that legally binding maximum amounts for the pollutant 3-MCPD in vegetable fats, oils and baby food are set throughout Europe. This obliges food manufacturers to minimize them and increases safety for consumers.
If you bake yourself, you can choose the ingredients consciously and do without cheap and health-threatening substitutes - and make the pastries with fewer calories. The Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) has some tips on how to save calories in the Christmas bakery.
The experts point out that gingerbread dough, for example, is much lighter than shortcrust pastry because it contains less butter. Coconut macaroons and anise cookies are also usually lower in calories than other Advent treats.
Colorful sprinkles and chocolate icing are a nice decoration, but they provide an extra portion of calories. A healthy alternative is dried fruit, nut splinters, fresh ginger, amaranth, quinoa or chia seeds. Last but not least, calories can also be saved by using baking paper instead of greasing the tin.
If you are looking for Christmas recipes - not just for sweets - you will find them here, among other things. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.