Fat is not only of implicated in diabetes and obesity, but also in heart disease, certain types of cancer, and hypertension. Presently most dietitians recommend that no more than 30% of daily calories come from fat, although some are now calling for lowering that to 20 to 25% of daily calories. Saturated fat, which is more likely to cause heart disease than cholesterol, should be limited to 7% of the calories or less.
The fat group is further divided for dietary purposes into sub-groups determined by the main type of fatty acids they contain: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated. Choices from the monounsaturated list are avocados, olives, almonds, and peanuts; and canola, olive, and peanut oil. The polyunsaturated list includes margarine and mayonnaise; and corn, safflower, and soybean oil. The saturated fat list includes bacon, butter, coconut, cream cheese, and sour cream. In your diet, 1 serving of fat is equal to 1 teaspoon of margarine or oil.
Obvious sources of fat such as butter, margarine, oils, salad dressings, mayonnaise, and gravy should be consumed sparingly. Hidden sources of fat in meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and baked goods should be limited with all visible fat removed before cooking.
Meat is a source of saturated fat so the recommended serving size is 3 ounces. When selecting beef, opt for choice grade (most often found in supermarkets) and then select lean cuts such as top round, eye of round, sirloin tip, round tip, and tenderloin. When we buy ground beef, we purchase ground sirloin which contains no more than 10% fat. When selecting lamb, choose the leg, shoulder, and loin for the leanest cuts, trimming all visible fat before cooking. Pork is also leaner and appropriate for a low-fat diet. Lean cuts of pork include the tenderloin, center loin, and fresh pork leg, or reduced-fat, low-salt ham. Processed pork products are almost always too high in fat; read the labels, especially if the label claims to be lower in fat.
Poultry is a naturally source of lean protein, as are turkey, game hens, quail, and duck breast (once the visible fat is removed). Ground turkey and chicken are good substitutes for ground beef. Check the label to make sure it contains no more than 15% fat and that it doesn’t contain any dark meat or skin. If your butcher is willing, have him fresh grind a turkey breast or chicken breast for you without the skin or added fat.
Use 1% or skim dairy products only — this includes milk, refrigerated or frozen yogurt, nonfat cream cheese, nonfat sour cream, 1% cottage cheese, and hard cheeses with less than 3 grams of fat per ounce. Substitute canned evaporated skim milk for heavy cream. Substitute tub reduced-fat margarine for butter. Limit egg yolks to no more than four per week.
Roast, grill, broil, braise using cooking sprays and small amounts of fat-free low-sodium broth, bake or poach. When cooking with yogurt, add 1 tablespoon cornstarch to each cup of yogurt to keep it from separating.
Sauté or fry in nonstick cookware, using stock, wine, cooking sprays, or a minimum of polyunsaturated oil. Remove fat from soups, sauces, and gravy using a fat separator (a small pitcher with a specially designed spout available at kitchen and discount stores). You can also refrigerate the food and scoop off the fat that rises to the top.
Use marinades made with special vinegars, herbs, lemon juice, or other fruit juice to add flavor to low-fat meat, poultry, and fish. If you’re going to make a sauce, be sure to boil the marinade since it has been in contact with the uncooked food. Baste meats and poultry with stock, not butter, margarine, or oil.
Cook food en papilotte, a sealed pouch of parchment paper or aluminum foil with a little wine, herbs, and lemon juice.
Use your microwave to cook virtually fat-free. A microwave cooks so quickly that foods are naturally flavorful, juicy, and tender without adding fat.