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Tips to Choose Lower-Fat Foods

Watching your fat intake? Keep these better choices in mind when strolling the grocery aisles. You'll be surprised by where you can reduce fat (hint: chocolate chip cookies make the cut).

Ways to Cut Fat

Looking to cut the amount of fat you eat? We've got simple swaps and eat-out tips that can help you make the healthiest choices at breakfast, dinner, and every munch in between. These tips save you calories, too -- fat has about 9 calories per gram, so reducing fat can quickly cut calories.

Note: The fat grams shown in the following slideshow were gathered from packaged-food labels and U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition data. Averages were used when multiple samples were used.

Choose Hummus Over Cream Cheese

Choose: 2 tablespoons purchased hummus (2 g fat)

Skip: 2 tablespoons regular cream cheese (10 g fat)

Cream cheese has five times more fat than hummus -- yikes! Hummus is mostly chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans. Hummus usually contains a bit of healthy fat from sesame seed oil or olive oil. Cream cheese contains a lot more fat, and some is unhealthy saturated fat. Eating half of a whole wheat bagel with 1 tablespoon of hummus adds 1 gram of fat.

Choose Feta Cheese Over Cheddar Cheese

Choose: 1 ounce feta cheese (6 g fat)

Skip: 1 ounce cheddar cheese (9 g fat)

The fat difference between these two cheeses is due to the cheese-making process and the type of milk used. If you're watching sodium, however, note that feta has 190 mg of sodium per serving, one of the highest levels for cheese. Because feta is rich in flavor, you can use less of it and still get plenty of great taste.

Choose a Waffle Over a Biscuit

Choose: One 7-inch waffle (4 g fat

Skip: One 2-1/2-inch biscuit (7 g fat)

Traditional biscuits, quick breads, and muffins need fat to bake up tender and moist, so they weigh in heavier than waffles. To boost nutritional value even more, look for multigrain or whole wheat waffles and top them with fresh fruit, low-sugar jam, or applesauce instead of sugary syrup.

Choose Chocolate Chip Cookies Over Trail Mix

Choose: Two 2-1/2-inch chocolate chip cookies (8 g fat)

Skip: 1/2 cup fruit-and-nut trail mix (20 g fat)

Surprised? Trail mix contains nuts and sometimes chocolate, which add lots of fat and calories. Just 1/2 cup of the mix has more than twice the fat of two chocolate chip cookies.

Choose Tuna Salad Over Egg Salad

Choose: 1/2 cup deli tuna salad (13 g fat)

Skip: 1/2 cup deli egg salad (15 g fat)

Eggs are naturally higher in fat than tuna, causing the disparity between the two similar favorite sandwich dressings. One slice of whole wheat bread adds about 2 grams of fat. Tuna also made the Cleveland Clinic's list of top three proteins for heart health. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Choose Italian Dressing Over Ranch Dressing

Choose: 2 tablespoons light Italian salad dressing (4 g fat)

Skip: 2 tablespoons light ranch salad dressing (6 g fat)

The ingredients that make up the ranch dressing contain more fat than vinegar-base dressings like Italian. Note how much you're putting on your salad as well. It's easy to drizzle more than a serving of either dressing on your meal. Measure it out before you begin, or better yet, have the dressing on the side and simply dip your fork into it before taking a bite of salad.

Tips for Saving Fat at Restaurants

These dining-out solutions can keep the fat in check when you're not the chef.

-- Ask for toppings, sauces, and dressings to be served on the side so you can control the amount.

-- Look for foods that are grilled, baked, steamed, or roasted.

-- Don't butter your rolls.

-- Avoid foods that are listed as fried, au gratin, creamed, scalloped, or breaded.

-- Choose lean meats, such as poultry or seafood.

-- Look for healthy or light options on menus (these are your best bets).

-- Opt for mustard rather than mayonnaise on sandwiches and burgers.

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