The Lowdown on Low Fat Foods

Get the lowdown on low fat foods.

A lifestyle with low fat foods is generally recognized as a healthy one and is part of many diet programs. Some fat is essential for body function but many people consume far more fat, often the wrong kind, than they should.

Cutting back on fat can be difficult for many because it's an integral part of so many manufactured foods where it is essential to the taste and texture of the product. Nonetheless, food manufacturers have made strides towards reducing the fat content of many foods we buy in the supermarket so that there is now a wide choice of low fat foods available.

Mind you, the labelling of these low fat foods can be confusing. You may see any one of the following on foods where fat content is reduced: fat free, low fat, reduced fat, low saturated fat, light/lite, lean, low calorie, and low cholesterol. The difference between these is largely a matter of degree, though some simply reduce saturated fat content.


Healthy vs. Unhealthy Fats

Actually not the amount of fat itself is the problem, but whether it's healthy or unhealthy fat. The Standard American Diet contains way to much (unhealthy) fats and therefore it's a good practice to cut back on your overall fat intake and also to try eating the healthier ones if possible. Don't ever think you can go without fat at all, as it's essential for your body to properly function.

Butter

Butter is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, but, if you only eat a little it is healthier than many margarines or spreads that contain trans-fats.

There are now spreads available made from olive oil or which contain little or no trans-fats, and some with ingredients to specifically lower cholesterol and these may be healthier.

Cooking oils

Palm oil, olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil and cooking spray oils are better than melted lard or vegetable or corn oil.

Fish-oils

are generally very good for you as they contain essential omega-3 fatty acids. Try to avoid fish tinned in oil. Go for fish canned in brine instead.

Also try to go for wild fish, as it has more than double the healthy omega 3 than farmed fish.

Eggs

Contain a fair amount of cholesterol but this is offset by the other nutrients present in large amounts such as– protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The latest advice is not to restrict your consumption of eggs. And always eat yolk and egg whites. As long as you eat free range organic eggs you won't have a problem.

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Meat

should be as lean as possible, so it is best to avoid too much smoked sausage meats and salamis as these are high in fat as well as undesirables such as nitrates.

Pork tenderloin and chicken are relatively low fat.

Make sure to eat as much grain fed meat as possible instead of the mass-market corn and grain fed meat. Scientists have shown that grass fed (and grass finished) organic meat is much healthier than the cheaper industrially manufactured meat you usually get in the supermarket.

Cheese

there is a wide variety of low fat cheeses that are most acceptable, from cottage cheeses, cream cheeses and hard cheeses. If you use a stronger cheese like gorgonzola, Gruyere, or Parmesan you will not need so much to get adequate flavor.


Other low fat foods

you can use in your cooking and your diet generally without worry are the following:

  • Vegetables of all kinds, both fresh and canned
  • canned tomatoes
  • Legumes and grains-all types of beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, rice, lentils, barley, couscous, quinoa and bulgur
  • Pasta- whole wheat is best, spaghetti, vermicelli, penne, lasagne sheets, and noodles
  • Jars of anchovies, capers, peppers, artichokes, pickles, sundried tomatoes and similar
  • Soups and stocks-low fat and low sodium canned soups and soup mixes, bouillon cubes and stock concentrates
  • Breads and cereals- whole grain breads are best, and whole grain cereals such as oatmeal and bran flakes
  • Dried fruits- cranberries, cherries, blueberries, and raisins
  • Nuts and seeds-almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seeds

It is not too difficult to reduce the amount of fat in your diet by paying attention to the right kinds of foods. Try to eat natural foods in the main, and when purchasing manufactured and processed foods have a good look at the label first.

Here are some more low fat menu suggestions that will help you if you are embarking on a low fat diet plan. 

Eat low fat –eat healthily!


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