Positive Results in USDA Study of Low-Fat Varieties of High-Fat Food

In an attempt to uncover new clues in the correlation between diet, blood pressure and blood cholesterol, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service recently conducted an experiment with low-fat varieties of typically high-fat popular food items and had positive results.

The six-week experiment, part of a 15-week study of low-fat menus, was the 10th in a series researchers at the USDA’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center in San Francisco, have conducted. It involved 12 volunteers age 35 to 65 who ate low-fat diets, including foods like red meat, dairy products and eggs. But at the end of the exercise, the average blood pressure had dropped 10% and the cholesterol level was down 20%, according to Rita M. Dougherty, a research chemist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

The volunteers ate red meat approximately four days a week, cheese several days a week, eggs about four times a week and had daily servings of milk and margarine. The diets contained either 25% or 30% fat. The key is that the participants were offered substitutes for popular foods that are usually high in fat.

Lean Meat Substituted


“On the low-fat regimen, we served the same amount of red meat and dairy products as on the higher fat diet,” said Dougherty, “but it was lean meat with most of the fat trimmed off.” Other alternatives offered were skim milk, low-fat cheeses and margarine--the type of changes being recommended by various other health agencies that can easily be made at home.

The decreases are similar to those seen in other study-volunteers who have switched from high to low-fat meals, Dougherty said. She added that the findings, “offer new evidence that people can enjoy these foods and, at the same time, reduce the fat in their diets as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol.”

Like the foods enjoyed by the study participants, the following recipes contain 3-ounce servings of meat, low-fat cheese and eggs, but they are within the recommended 30% fat dieting range.



1/4 cup margarine

1 1/4 cups flour

2 cups nonfat milk, hot

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

5 eggs, separated


8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese


6 ounces smoked salmon, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

Melt margarine in saucepan and whisk in 3/4 cup flour. Stir in milk until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolks, 1 at time. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup flour, dill and season to taste with salt. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into mixture. Pour into 17 1/2-x 12 1/2-inch baking sheet lined with wax paper sprayed with non-stick vegetable coating spray. Bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes or until done.

Meanwhile, combine Neufchatel cheese, ricotta cheese, salmon and onions and set aside.

While still warm, place another sheet wax paper, sprayed with non-stick vegetable coating spray, on top and turn out of pan. Peel off paper liner from baking sheet and quickly spread filling over top of sponge. Roll up carefully, starting with long side. Chill, then slice to serve. Makes 10 servings.


1 teaspoon olive oil

6 ounces cubed steaks


Salt, pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup prepared spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1 cup cooked linguine

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Pan broil steaks 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Season steaks with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice. Remove steaks and keep warm.

Cook spaghetti sauce, mushrooms and basil in small saucepan, uncovered 3 minutes or until hot. Spoon half of sauce over linguine. Place steaks on top of sauce and spoon remaining sauce over steaks. Sprinkle steaks evenly with cheese. Makes 2 servings.


1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 1/2 pounds skinned chicken pieces

1 medium green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup red wine

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained

Hot cooked rice

1 small tomato, chopped

Combine flour, garlic and pepper and coat chicken with mixture. Brown chicken on all sides in hot oil in large skillet. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Wipe skillet clean.

Combine green pepper, green onions, wine and soy sauce in skillet. Return chicken to pan, cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and simmer, covered, 10 minutes longer. Add artichoke hearts and simmer, covered, 10 minutes or until chicken is tender. Arrange chicken and artichokes over hot cooked rice on large platter. Sprinkle tomato evenly over all and serve with pan juices. Makes 4 servings.


1 (10 1/2-ounce) can chunky creamy mushroom soup

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 cup carrots, cut into 1-inch julienne strips

1/2 cup Chinese peas, cut into 1-inch julienne strips

4 flounder fillets, about 1 pound

1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper

In 2-cup glass measure, combine soup and lemon zest. Set aside.

In 10x6-inch microwave-safe dish, combine carrots and peas. Cover and microwave on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until tender-crisp.

Meanwhile, cut fillets lengthwise in half and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Divide carrots and peas evenly among fillets and roll up. Secure with wood picks. Place fish rolls cut-side down in 10x6-inch microwave-safe dish and cover. Microwave on HIGH 5 minutes until fish flakes easily when tested with fork, rotating dish twice during cooking. Discard any liquid in dish. Let stand, covered, 2 minutes.

Microwave soup mixture on HIGH 2 minutes or until hot. Place about 1/4 cup hot sauce on each of 4 serving plates. Top with fish. Makes 4 servings.


1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch slices

1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon oregano leaves, crumbled

1 teaspoon basil leaves, crumbled

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese

Reserve 1 tablespoon oil, then brush both sides of eggplant lightly with remainder. Coat eggplant slices with bread crumbs and place in single layer in shallow non-stick baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees, uncovered, until fork tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat reserved oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, water, oregano, basil, sugar and salt. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon sauce over eggplant and sprinkle with mozzarella. Place under heated broiler until cheese melts. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan. Makes 4 servings.