Tips on Maintaining a Low-Fat Diet : Worst Offenders Include Fried Foods and Rich Sauces

Here is a list of tips and simple substitutions that can help maintain a diet that derives only 30% of its total calories from fat. Keep in mind that the recommendation also stipulates that the fat be equally distributed among polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat, each responsible for no more than 10%.

“To reduce the intake of dietary fat,” said Darlene Dougherty, president of the American Dietetic Assn., “avoid what I call the worst offenders--including fried foods, rich sauces, whipped cream, fatty or heavily-marbled meats and high-fat desserts.”

--Steam, boil or bake vegetables and season them with herbs and spices rather than sauces, margarine or butter.

--Potatoes, whole-grain breads and pasta supply significant amounts of carbohydrate and fiber in the diet, but use low-fat preparation methods to serve them. Avoid frying potatoes, spreading whole-grain breads with high-calorie spreads or topping pasta with rich sauces.


--Use egg whites instead of whole eggs in cooking and baking. Or, use 1/4 cup egg substitute in place of each whole egg.

--Substitute low-fat cheeses such as ricotta and mozzarella made from part skim milk or low-fat cottage cheese for American or Cheddar, cream or semisoft cheeses such as Brie.

--Avoid the use of whole milk and cream in sauces, on hot and cold cereals or with beverages and opt, instead, for nonfat or evaporated skim milk.

--Instead of heavily marbled or fatty meats (ground beef is one of the highest), sausage, bacon and organ meats choose lean cuts such as flank and round steak, white meat poultry without skin, most fish and veal cuts.

--Choose tuna packed in water over tuna packed in oil for lunch and spare 7 grams of fat. Make sandwiches from sliced roasted turkey breast instead of turkey and other processed deli meats, which can be sources of hidden fat.

--Low or unsalted soda, rye and some whole-grain crackers are better options than butter-type or round snack crackers. Four saltines offer about 1 gram of fat while round snack crackers offer about 1 gram of fat per cracker.

--Select English muffins, bagels, yeast breads and tortillas over muffins, waffles, biscuits, croissants, sweet rolls, doughnuts, fried breads and coffeecakes.

--Most cereals are better options than granola, except when the cereals contain excessive sugar. (1 gram of sugar is equivalent to 5 teaspoons.)


--During grilling season, barbecue chicken without the skin instead of beef and pork ribs.

--Rich gourmet-type vanilla ice cream contains as much as 24 grams of fat per cup, while the same size serving of ice milk contains 6 grams of fat.

--Prepare foods in non-stick pans sprayed with vegetable cooking spray, or use a small amount of oil to lubricate the pan, then wipe out excess oil before cooking.

--One ounce of potato chips, about 14 chips, contains as much as 10 grams of fat. Substitute these and other snack foods with unsalted pretzels or air-popped corn, which offer no fat for the same portion size.


--Instead of mayonnaise (100 calories and 22 grams of fat per tablespoon) and salad dressings made with large amounts of oil, substitute condiments such as mustard and catsup, pickles and relish and use low-calorie versions of dressing on salads. Reduced calorie mayonnaise has about half the fat and calories of regular.

--Dry coffee whiteners or creamers are mostly sugar and saturated fat so switch to evaporated skim milk or low-fat milk in coffee.

--Soft tub margrines and spreads are made from unsaturated oils: regular butter and margarine each have 100 calories per tablespoon; spreadables have 80 calories; whipped varieties have 70 calories.

--One ounce of baking chocolate offers more than 8 grams of fat. Substitute 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon polyunsaturated oil for about one-third the fat.