Eating Less Total Fat Saturated Fat Trans Fat and Cholesterol

The following guidelines should help you decrease the amount of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol in your diet:

  • Eat generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In general, these foods contain very little, if any, fat.
  • Choose beans, fish, nuts, and seeds as your protein foods most of the time. These foods contain mostly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Fish that is fresh, plain frozen, or water packed is best. Wild salmon and lake trout contain healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds that are raw or dry roasted (meaning without added oil) are best. Because of the fat content of nuts and seeds, you should limit your intake of these foods to V cup per day. With the exception of soybeans (which contain healthful unsaturated fat), beans are low in fat.
  • Choose lean cuts of red meat. Lean cuts of beef include select-grade top round, top loin, eye of round, sirloin, and tenderloin. Lean cuts of pork include trimmed tenderloin, loin roast, center loin chop, and top loin chop. To further reduce your fat consumption, trim the fat off red meat before cooking it.
  • Choose skinless, white-meat poultry. Poultry products with skin are higher in fat than products with the skin removed. Also, dark-meat poultry, such as a chicken leg or thigh, is higher in fat than white-meat poultry, such as a chicken breast or wing.
  • Limit consumption of high-fat protein foods. Bacon, sausage, bologna, and salami have high fat content. Think of these foods more as "special occasion" foods or side dishes to be used very sparingly.
  • Limit consumption of regular hamburger. Use ground beef that is at least 90 percent lean. When using higher-fat ham burger, drain off the extra fat after cooking, or use a cooking method, such as grilling, that allows the fat to drip away from the meat.
  • Eat low-fat or nonfat milk products. Choose skim or 1 percent milk, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese. If you eat a lot of full-fat milk products, this one change alone will dramatically decrease your intake of total fat and saturated fat.
  • Limit consumption of processed foods high in total fat, saturated fat, or trans fat. Always check the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list for trans fat. If a product contains this type of fat, do not buy it. Instead, find a comparable product made without trans fat. Also, some gluten-free snack foods are very high in fat. Always check labels, and choose products with lower fat content.
  • Prepare as much food at home as possible. By preparing your own food, you control the amount and type of fat you eat. You are less likely to unknowingly consume saturated and trans fat.
  • Limit the amount of butter and margarine you use. If a recipe gives you the choice of using butter or oil, always use oil. When you sauté vegetables, use vegetable oil, not butter. Besides limiting butter and margarine in cooking, find substitutes at the table. For example, dip bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter. One tablespoon of olive oil contains 13.5 grams of total fat, 1.9 grams of saturated fat, and no cholesterol. In comparison, 1 tablespoon of butter contains 11.5 grams of total fat, 7.3 grams of saturated fat, and 31 milligrams of cholesterol.

As you can see from the comparisons in the following table, choosing lower-fat versions of foods can make a major difference in your overall intake of fat and saturated fat.

Comparisons of Fat and Saturated-Fat Content

Milk (1 cup)

Type

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Whole milk

8.0 grams

4.5 grams

2 percent milk

5.0 grams

3.0 grams

1 percent milk

2.5 grams

1.5 grams

Skim milk

0.0 grams

0.0 grams

YOGURT, PLAIN (1 CUP)

Type

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Whole-milk yogurt

8.0 grams

5.0 grams

Low-fat yogurt

4.0 grams

2.5 grams

Fat-free yogurt

0.5 gram

0.5 gram

CHEDDAR CHEESE (1 OUNCE)

Type

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Whole-milk cheese

9.5 grams

6.0 grams

Low-fat cheese

2.0 grams

1.0 gram

POULTRY (3 OUNCES)

Type

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Chicken leg (with skin)

11.5 grams

3.0 grams

Chicken leg (without skin)

7.0 grams

2.0 grams

Chicken breast (with skin)

6.5 grams

2.0 grams

Chicken breast (without skin)

3.0 grams

1.0 gram

BEEF (3 OUNCES)

Type

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

95 percent lean hamburger

5.5 grams

2.5 grams

90 percent lean hamburger

10.0 grams

4.0 grams

85 percent lean hamburger

13.0 grams

5.0 grams

80 percent lean hamburger

15.0 grams

6.0 grams

COOKIE (1 COOKIE, 23 G)

Type

Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Pamela's pecan shortbread

8.0 grams

4.0 grams

Pamela's ginger

5.0 grams

0.5 gram

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