While some fat in the diet is necessary, and it would be a mistake to try to eliminate all fat from the diet, most people simply eat too much fat. Cutting back on fat is an important part of creating a healthier diet and lifestyle.
There are a number of good reasons for cutting back on levels of dietary fat. Those reasons include:
- Lowering levels of dietary fat helps in weight loss and weight management. Fat contains twice as many calories per gram as protein and carbohydrates, so eating less fat usually means consuming fewer calories.
- Lowering fat has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. Dietary fat, particularly saturated fat, has been implicated as a factor in heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels.
- A low fat diet may help to reduce the risk of some forms of cancer. Although this matter has not been totally settled, there have been a number of studies which indicate that a diet low in fat can keep certain cancers at bay.
- And of course eating fewer high fat foods means that you will be able to enjoy many more low fat alternatives, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Since these types of foods tend to be nutrient rich and low calorie, they can be enjoyed guilt free.
Of course cutting back on dietary fat is easier said than done, so we have compiled the list of tips for low fat healthy eating to help you get started.
- In place of spreads like peanut butter and full fat cream cheese, use lower fat alternatives such as low fat cream cheese, jellies, jams, fruit spreads, apple butter, mustard, low fat margarine, or low fat mayonnaise.
- Use high fat foods as an occasional treat, not as a dietary staple.
- Use reduced fat or nonfat salad dressings whenever possible. When eating out, request the salad dressing on the side so you can compare the amount used.
- .Instead of butter or sour cream, top baked potatoes with plain nonfat or low fat yogurt. Other delicious baked potato toppings include steamed broccoli, cottage cheese, salsa, low fat cheese and low fat or nonfat sour cream.
- Get creative with seasonings to add flavor without adding fat or calories. Garnishes like lemon juice, herbs, salsa or green onions are great toppings for vegetables and salads.
- Use high fat toppings sparingly. For instance, instead of using a tablespoon of blue cheese salad dressing, try using only a teaspoon.
- Avoid full fat dairy products whenever possible. Using skim milk or 2% milk instead of whole milk can make a huge difference in your daily fat intake. Likewise, low fat alternatives to ice cream, such as frozen yogurt, provide all the flavor and none of the fat.
- Low fat cheeses also provide a great alternative to full fat varieties. Most varieties of hard cheeses are available in low fat versions.
- Use low fat varieties of popular snacks. Ginger snaps, angel food cake, vanilla wafers, fig bars, jelly beans, hard candy and gum drops are all excellent choices for a sweet treat.
- Instead of potato chips, which are very high in fat, choose pretzels, unbuttered popcorn and other healthier alternatives.
In addition to choosing the right foods, the preparation of the foods you buy is very important to keeping fat levels as low as possible. Proper low fat food preparation starts with buying the leanest cuts of beef, pork, fish and chicken, and removing the skin and fat from chicken breasts, legs and thighs.
Broiling, backing and grilling are generally the lowest fat methods for preparing the meats and seafood you buy. Try to avoid frying foods, and if you must fry, try to use a pan that allows the excess fat and oil to drain off easily.
Healthy, low fat cooking does not have to be boring or unappetizing. There are great many excellent recipes for low fat, healthy meals that are easy to make. The most important thing is to be an educated consumer and shop carefully for the healthiest produce, meat and seafood.