A guide to low-fat diets

Low carb, low fat, and even high fat-a person can take several dietary approaches to improve or preserve their health. Eating a low fat diet is a simple way of cutting extra calories.

Doctors can recommend eating a low-fat diet because fat calories are higher than protein or carbohydrate calories per gram.

Many high-fat foods— like cookies, pies, French fries and greasy foods— may also have less nutritional value than healthy options like fruits and vegetables.

While fat is an important part of a person’s diet, “good fats” and “bad fats” exist. Knowing the difference will help a person make informed choices about their meals.

We mention many low-fat foods in this article, and the benefits of a low-fat diet. We’re also looking at a sample meal plan, mix-and-match.

List of low fat foods

A lady eating some low fat food
A doctor may suggest a low fat diet to cut out extra calories.

Low-fat foods are those with 30 per cent or less of their calories from fats. So if a food contains less than 3 grams of fat per 100 calories, it is a food that is low in fat.

A person can read his / her nutrition label to decide if a food is low in fat.

As many manufacturers label foods as “low fat” despite having a relatively high fat content, it is important to read the part of the mark which lists specific values.

Examples of low-fat foods which a person may include in their diet include:

Cereals, grains, and pasta products

  • corn or whole wheat tortillas
  • baked crackers
  • most cold cereals
  • noodles, especially whole grain versions
  • oatmeal
  • rice
  • whole grain bagels
  • English muffins
  • pita bread

Dairy products

Dairy products can be high in fat, but the food producers often offer lower versions of fat. Including:

  • fat free cheese
  • fat free or “skim” milk or yogurt
  • light or fat free cream cheese
  • low fat cottage cheese, milk, or yogurt

Some nondairy yogurts are also low fat.

sources of Protein

Tofu is a good low fat source of protein.
  • beans
  • lentils
  • tofu
  • egg whites
  • lean cuts of meat
  • lentils
  • tuna
  • peas
  • shrimp
  • skinless chicken or turkey breast
  • veggie burgers

vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and vegetables are naturally low fat. Choose fresh, frozen, or canned options.

Miscellaneous foods

Additional foods that can be a part of a low fat diet include:

  • mustard
  • sauces containing skim milk
  • salsa
  • vegetable based broth soups
  • popcorn
  • honey
  • jam
  • light salad dressings, or simply lemon juice and balsamic vinegar

Benefits

It is important to remember, when contemplating a low fat diet, that not all forms of fat are unhealthful. The aim is consuming a varied diet of normal, nutritious foods and avoiding those high in saturated or trans fats.

To prolong their shelf life, producers add saturated fats or trans fats to the products. Also present in fried foods are these forms of fat.

These types of fat may increase the low density lipoprotein cholesterol of a person, which, in effect, can increase their risk of heart disease and other complications in health.

On the other hand, polyunsaturated fatty acids— such as omega-3 and omega-6 — and monounsaturated fat can be beneficial to the body. Such fats come in nutritious foods like:

  • salmon
  • avocado
  • almonds
  • cashews
  • seeds
  • tahini
  • walnuts

Diets which are very high in fat from processed and fast foods appear to have less nutritional value than lower fat diets which include a mixture of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.

Meal Planning

The AHA recommends 3 portions daily of low fat or fat-free dairy products.

When it come to part of a healthy eating pattern, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following:

  1. Fruit: Every day, people should try eating 4 portions of canned, dry, fresh, or frozen fruit.
  2. Oils: Try for up to 3 tablespoons of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated canola, olive oil, almond, safflower oils, or sesame oils.
  3. Dairy products: A person should try to consume 3 portions of low fat or fat-free dairy products per day.
  4. Proteins: Try eating 1–2 portions of eggs, unfried fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, or skinless turkey or chicken everyday.
  5. Vegetables: Aim at eating 5 portions of canned, dried, fresh or frozen vegetables everyday.
  6. Whole grains: A person should aim at eating 3–6 portions of grains— like wheat, brown rice, barley, crackers, or oatmeal — every day.

The following meal plan has a low fat content:

  • Breakfast: Honey, frozen blueberries and raisins, plus a cup of orange juice, could be included in the snack.
  • lunch: A tuna and cucumber sandwich, a boiled egg, and a quarter of a cup of low fat vanilla yogurt could be used for lunch.
  • Dinner might include spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, vegetables, and lean meatballs or a vegetarian alternative.
  • Snacks could be carrot sticks or whole grain crackers with hummus dip.

ChooseMyPlate.gov also provides examples of low-fat, 2-week menus.

A person should be conscious of the amount of oil they use when preparing meals. Cooking the food in a non-stick pan will help to reduce the required amount.

Summary

A low fat diet can be a positive approach to eating healthy. It is important to continue eating healthy fats, such as fish, avocado and nuts.

However, reducing unhealthy fats can have a positive effect on the weight, heart health, and general well-being of a person.

If you have concerns about the type of diet you should adopt for your wellbeing, you should talk to your doctor.

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