Dietician gives ‘how to’ for low-fat food strategies

| June 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily those from fish and algae, have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and may play an important role in decreasing inflammation. Make a goal of consuming two servings of fatty fish, i.e., salmon, per week, to boost your omega-3 intake. (Courtesy photos)

Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily those from fish and algae, have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and may play an important role in decreasing inflammation. Make a goal of consuming two servings of fatty fish, i.e., salmon, per week, to boost your omega-3 intake. (Courtesy photos)

Capt. Mary Staudter
Tripler Army Medical Center
Nutrition Care Division

HONOLULU — “Should I always choose foods that are low in fat?”

Staudter

Staudter

With so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know what to look for on a food label.

Due to its high caloric content (9 calories/gram), fat tends to get a lot of bad press when it comes to weight loss and heart health. However, research shows that, when eaten appropriately, the right kinds of fat can offer many nutritional benefits.

So, what should you be looking for on the nutrition label?

Many individuals look at calories from fat to determine if the product is a high, moderate or low-fat choice. However, this method may not be especially helpful information, as not all high-fat foods are bad.

The more important information to pay attention to is the type of fat you are consuming and how much.

The American Heart Association recommends 25-35 percent of your total daily calories from fat, with less than seven percent from saturated fat and less than one percent from trans fat (both will be listed on the label under Total Fat).

For an average person consuming a modest 1,800 calories per day, this method equates to 50-70 grams of total fat, less than 14 grams of saturated fat and less than two grams of trans fat.

To put this in perspective, one ounce of cheddar cheese has approximately six grams of saturated fat; two tablespoons of most commercial frostings has 1.5 grams of trans fat.

Monounsaturated fats from foods like avocado, most nuts and seeds, olive oil and canola oil are healthy options to incorporate into your diet that will likely help improve your cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fats from foods like avocado, most nuts and seeds, olive oil and canola oil are healthy options to incorporate into your diet that will likely help improve your cholesterol levels.

You will easily exceed recommendations with a small fast food cheeseburger, fries and milk shake, or a cupcake with a serving of full-fat ice cream.

Try to minimize saturated and trans fats by reducing your intake of high fat animal products and processed foods. Avoid foods that list partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients.

Review your coffee creamers, margarines, popcorn, granola bars, and other food items you use on a regular basis. Look, instead, for foods that are higher in unsaturated fats, which come primarily from plant and seafood sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids (primarily those from fish and algae) have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and may play an important role in decreasing inflammation. Make a goal of consuming two servings of fatty fish (i.e., salmon) per week to boost your omega-3 intake.

Monounsaturated fats from sources like avocado, most nuts and seeds, olive oil and canola oil are also healthy sources to incorporate into your diet.

Replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats (while maintaining a healthy weight) will likely help you improve your cholesterol levels. To do this, consider using an avocado spread in place of mayonnaise or an olive oil and vinegar blend in place of Ranch dressing.

These small changes day after day can make a significant difference in your long-term health. Don’t be fearful of consuming fats; just be sure you are an informed consumer!

Questions

Have a question for a dietitian? Email mary.staudter@us.army.mil.

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Category: Community, Health

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