How many times do you hear people say, “I am watching my carbs.” Have you ever heard someone say, “I am watching the fat in my diet”? Probably not. So much focus on carbs but so little focus on fat in one’s diet. Since February is heart health month, let’s look at what fats you should be “watching” in your diet. We need fat in our diets but we also should cut back on saturated fats in our diets. The Dietary Guidelines offer specific recommendations about saturated fat:
Limit calories from saturated fat by consuming an eating pattern low in saturated fats. Specifically, by consuming less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats.
Why the focus on lowering our saturated fat intake?
The Dietary Guidelines and the American Heart Association recommend lowering our saturated fat intake because:
The recommendation to limit intake of calories from saturated fats to less than 10 percent per day is a target based on evidence that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
What are some ways to cut back on saturated fat?
- Dairy – whole fat dairy foods have saturated fat so switch to low-fat milk, or fat free milk. Choose low fat yogurt and cheese lower in fat like mozzarella cheese.
- Meat – choose leaner cuts of such as lean hamburger or chose ground turkey. Cut back on bacon and sausage which are higher in saturated fats.
- Oil – oils like olive oil, corn oil, safflower are good, heart healthy choices. But avoid the tropical oils, palm and coconut oil, as these are high in saturated fat.
The Two Docs, Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen offer some good ideas for cutting back on saturated fat in their article, “Get real with yourself about the sat-fat you’re ingesting” (Two Docs, FLS 2014).
- Chicken – a healthy choice until you choose fried chicken with skin or Buffalo Wings. Choose baked or grilled chicken. Going out to eat? Look for grilled chicken on the menu.
- Pasta – pasta with a red spaghetti tomato-based sauce is a healthy choice, Alfredo sauce not so much. Alfredo sauce tastes good but often packs in the calories and the saturated fat.
- Mayonnaise, bleu cheese dressing – mayonnaise, a tasty choice for bacon, tomato and lettuce sandwich. But mayo has saturated fat so limit the amount you use. Bleu cheese dressing also tastes great on a salad but has saturated fat. Enjoy occasionally on your salad or choose a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Going out to eat at a restaurant? By choosing foods that are lower in saturated fat, you can lower your risk of heart disease. Look for baked or grilled, choose the marinara spaghetti sauce over the Alfredo sauce. Choose the balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. There are many ways you can replace some of the saturated fats in your diet with healthier unsaturated fats. Going out for Fast Food? Look at the nutrition information online and choose options that are lower in saturated fat. All of the major chains, McDonald’s, Subway, Taco Bell have the nutrition information for their menu choices posted online.
Sources: Dietary Guidelines, Get real with yourself about the sat-fat you’re ingesting, Two Doc, Free Lance Star, 8- 2014. Image source: spaghetti