How can I cut the fat in my diet?

hamburger
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Both the meat and cheese in this burger are high in fat.

Eating fat gives you energy and works with other nutrients that you eat, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, to nourish your body.

Most Americans eat too much fat, which increases the risk of being overweight, having high blood pressure, and developing heart disease. Research has shown that eating foods high in fat can clog and narrow arteries and lead to heart disease. This is especially true for saturated fats - the kind that are solid at room temperature, such as butter or lard. Because having high blood pressure puts you at greater risk for heart disease, it's especially important for you to eat foods and meals that are low in total fat and saturated fat.

Which foods have fat?

Fat is found in:
  • baked goods, such as donuts, cakes, and muffins
  • butter
  • margarine
  • fried foods
  • oil
  • meats and poultry with the skin
  • cheese
  • whole milk

Try to limit your servings of these foods.

How much is a serving of fat?

Always measure fats with measuring spoons. Don't guess!

Each of these equals 1 serving of fat:

  • 1 Tbsp. salad dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. light salad dressing
  • 1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. margarine
  • 1 tsp. oil or butter
  • 6 peanuts
On the next page, learn how to monitor your fat intake.

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Tips to Reduce Fat

Foods high in fat tend to be high in calories, so you should eat smaller portions of these foods to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. In addition, you should limit your cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams per day. Cholesterol is found in all animal products - but not in plant products. Check food labels to see how much cholesterol is in the food you eat.

 For the following calorie ranges:
 Limit your fat to this many servings per day:
 1,200 to 1,600 calories 4 to 6
 1,600 to 2,000 calories 6 to 8
 2,000 to 2,400 calories 8 to 10


Also, use these tips to cut the fat in your diet.

How to Cut Back on Fat in Meats

  • Eat only small portions of meat, poultry, and fish. Choose pieces that are no larger than the size of a deck of cards or standard personal checkbook. Better yet, use small pieces of meat for flavoring rather than as a main course.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat, such as those with "round" or "loin" in their name.
  • Cut off visible fat from meat before you cook it.
  • Remove skin from poultry before you eat it.
  • Bake, broil, poach, steam, or saute instead of frying.
  • Substitute beans and peas for meats in dishes.

How to Reduce Fat From Dairy Products

  • Use skim or low-fat dairy products instead of those made with whole milk.
  • Choose nonfat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
  • Use nonfat sour cream in place of sour cream.
  • Limit the amount of cheese you eat. Choose part-skim or reduced-fat varieties.
  • Use ricotta cheese made from skim milk, or use nonfat cottage cheese.
  • Use light or nonfat cream cheese in place of regular cream cheese.

How to Cut Back on Fats in Butter and Oils

  • Cut down on butter, oil, and margarine. Cook in nonstick pans or use fat-free stock, wine, or water for cooking.
  • Use small amounts of dressings and condiments such as mayonnaise. Substitute low-fat or nonfat varieties, flavored vinegar, lemon juice, or mustard.
  • Skim fat from gravies and soups.

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