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Fat is an essential macronutrient, but too much fat is detrimental to health. A low-fat diet has many health benefits 1. Healthy cooking methods and smart decisions when eating out can support a low-fat diet.
Unsaturated fats include fat from olive and vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and fish. Unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated and trans fats because they can actually help prevent heart disease. Federal dietary guidelines recommend that less than 30 percent of daily calories come from fat and that less than 10 percent come from saturated fat.
Fat is high in calories, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says consuming too many calories causes weight gain and obesity. A low-fat diet supports a steady weight and can prevent weight gain because it is lower in calories than a high-fat diet. A low-fat diet supports weight loss and generally limits all types of fat because weight loss requires a reduction in total calories.
A low-fat diet not only reduces the risk of heart disease, but also actually protects the body because:
- naturally low-fat foods tend to be high in vitamins
According to the USDA, fiber can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Antioxidants prevent diseases such as cancer by destroying harmful chemicals called free radicals.
High-fat foods are ones that are made with a lot of saturated and trans fats such as:
- fast foods
- processed foods
- snack foods
- creamy salad dressings
- whipped cream
- gravy made from meat drippings
- cream soups
- ice cream
Milkshakes, blended coffee drinks and alcoholic dessert drinks are examples of beverages that can be high in fat.
When eating out, the American Dietetic Association suggests requesting salad dressings, dipping sauces and mayonnaise on the side because these tend to be high in fat and calories. Ordering coffee with fat-free or skim milk, getting steamed vegetables instead of sautéed vegetables and sticking to clear broths instead of creamy soups will also help reduce the fat in a diet. Removing visible fat and skin from meat and poultry will significantly reduce saturated and total fat.
A low-fat diet supports weight loss and generally limits all types of fat because weight loss requires a reduction in total calories. Unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated and trans fats because they can actually help prevent heart disease. Naturally low-fat foods include fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean proteins.
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