Tips for Cutting Down on Saturated Fat and Trans Fat (Plus Recipe Ideas!)

by Megan O. Steintrager, Epicurious

Try substituting vegetarian protein, such as tofu, for meat once a week.Try substituting vegetarian protein, such as tofu, for meat once a week. As we continue February's Doable Challenge to eat for heart health, this week I'd like to focus on fat (after all, today is Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday). Dietary fats can be divided into broad good and bad categories, with the good including polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in plants, including avocados and nuts, as well as some animal sources such as fish. The worst fat, trans fat, is found mostly in packaged foods and has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease. Fortunately, trans fat has gotten much easier to avoid since 2006, when the FDA began requiring food manufacturers to list it on labels. They can still include it in small amounts (less than .5 g per serving) without labeling for it, so it's best to also steer clear of foods with "partially hydrogenated oil" listed on the label. The other bad fat, saturated fat, is found mostly in animal products, including meat, butter, and cream, as well as in some vegetable oils, including palm and coconut oil. As writer Beth Janes explains in Self magazine's 4 Healthy Fats (and One to Avoid), consuming too much saturated fat has long been associated with increased risk of heart disease, though some recent evidence has cast a somewhat better light on this fat. Still, experts, including the American Heart Association, recommend limiting saturated fat intake (The AHA advises that saturated fat make up less than 7 percent of your daily caloric intake). Read on for tips and recipes that'll help you slash saturated fat.

There are a number of ways to limit saturated fat, including the following:
- Choose skim or nonfat milk, yogurt, and other dairy products.
- Buy the leanest cuts of meat. - Reduce portion sizes of the fattiest foods, using cheese or meat as a garnish, rather than the main course.
- Remove skin from poultry (before or after cooking).
- Cook with olive oil or canola oil instead of butter.
- Use spreads such as hummus or nut butters instead of regular butter.
- Subsitute vegetarian protein, such as beans, nuts, and tofu, for meat at least once a week (Meatless Monday is a good way to do this).

HEALTHY RECIPES TO TRY:
* Crisp Oven-"Fried" Chicken: Lean skinless chicken breasts are breaded and oven baked for a healthy take on fried chicken.
* Quick Beef with Broccoli: This stir-fry recipe is made with sirloin tip, an extra lean cut of beef.
* Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Mizuna with Tofu: Here's a hearty vegetarian main.
* Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs: Make sure to choose lean ground turkey to keep this recipe low in saturated fat.

Learn more about one of the good fats, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and share your tips for cutting saturated fat in the Comments section.


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