Simple steps to cut your fat consumption

June 06, 2000

The American Heart Association recommends you reduce your overall fat intake to no more than 30 percent of total calories and your saturated fat intake to 8 to 10 percent of calories.

Try these tips to cut your fat consumption:

* Choose lean cuts of meat. Look for USDA select or choice grades of lean beef such as round steak, sirloin tip, tenderloin and extra lean ground beef. "Prime" grades are heavily marbled, making them high in saturated fatty acids.

* When choosing hamburger, look for the medium-to-deep color that signifies a low-fat content. A light pink color is a warning that excess fat has been ground in with the meat. Ground beef should contain no more than 15 percent fat. Or buy ground round, which is usually very lean. Better yet, select a well-trimmed piece of steak, lean stewing beef or lean chuck roast, and ask the butcher to grind it for you.


* Liver, brains, kidney and sweetbreads are high in cholesterol and should be limited or omitted.

* Select lean pork such as tenderloin, loin chops, center-cut ham (fresh and cured) and Canadian bacon.

* All cuts of veal are lean except veal cutlets (ground or cubed) and breast of veal. Use chicken or turkey breasts in recipes that call for veal steaks or cutlets.

* The lean cuts of lamb are leg, arm and loin.

* Some wild game, such as venison, rabbit, squirrel and pheasant, are very lean; duck and goose are not.

* Processed meats should be eaten only if they contain no more than 10 percent fat or 3 grams fat per ounce. Many processed meats (luncheon meats, wieners) and sausage are high in saturated fatty acids.

* Stay away from self-basting turkeys, because commercial basting fats are highly saturated. Even when the turkey is basted in broth, the broth is usually high in sodium. It's much better to baste your own turkey with an unsalted broth.

* Trim fat from meat before cooking. Trim skin from poultry.

* Fish is low in sodium, and it generally contains less saturated fat than red meat and about the same (or slightly less) cholesterol.

* All fresh and frozen fish are good selections, as is tuna canned in water or rinsed. Uncreamed or smoked herring and sardines, canned in tomato sauce or rinsed, are good choices.

* Shrimp, lobster, crab, crayfish and most other shellfish are very low in fat. But ounce for ounce, some varieties contain more sodium and cholesterol than do poultry, meat or other fish. Even these can be eaten occasionally within the recommended guidelines of 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day.

* Some fish have omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower the level of lipids (blood fats). Some fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are: Atlantic and coho salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, carp, lake whitefish, sweet smelt and lake and brook trout.

* Select water-packed tuna over tuna packed in oil.

* Eat a meatless meal at least once a week.

* Enjoy pasta, rice, bread and cereal, which are low in fat and rich in nutrients. Choose plain breads and rolls over croissants and doughnuts.

* Instead of frying foods, bake, steam, roast, boil or broil them.

* Chill meat or poultry broth until the fat is solid. Lift off fat before using broth.

* Experiment with different herbs and spices on chicken and fish. Rosemary, thyme, garlic and oregano impart different flavors to chicken. Try ginger, lime and low-salt soy sauce on salmon or tarragon on a grilled tuna steak. Nutmeg on fish or chicken lends an enticing snap.

* Heat things up with "spicy" spices - red pepper flakes, chili powder or cayenne paper. Start with a pinch and see how hot you want to go. Or add fresh hot peppers. Remove the membrane and the seeds before finely chopping. But remember, a small amount goes a long way.

* Use fresh herbs whenever possible. Use a mortar and pestle to grind them for the freshest and fullest flavor.

* Add dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary and marjoram to dishes for a more pungent flavor, but use them sparingly.

* Grate fresh ginger with a flat, sheet-type grater. Use a food processor to grate fresh horseradish, which packs a lot more punch than the salted, bottled kind.

* Fresh vegetables and fruits have little or no fat, tend to be low in sodium and, in most cases, are high in fiber and vitamins. The exceptions include coconut meat and avocados. Coconut meat is high in saturated fatty aids, and avocados are high in fat, although the fat is largely unsaturated. Eat these in moderation.

* Fruits that are fresh or canned in water are lower in calories than fruits canned in juice or in syrup. Drain fruits canned in syrup.

* Olives are high in fat and sodium.

* Season vegetables with herbs and spices rather than with rich sauces, butter or margarine. Avoid fried vegetables, which have several times more fat and calories than vegetables prepared without fat.

* Roasting vegetables in a hot oven will caramelize their natural sugars and bring out their full flavor.

* Use lemon juice, low-fat cottage cheese or buttermilk seasoned with herbs and spices on salads.

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