Can you please tell me how I’ll know if something is not high in saturated fat, and if it’s okay to eat without me gaining weight? – Kisha
First off, all fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated) provide the same 9 calories per gram. Too much of any fat in total will contribute to weight gain, so all are bad for your waistline. Aside from trans fat (from processed foods), saturated fats are the worst for your heart. A food that has no more than 1 gm saturated fat or where saturated fat provides no more than 15% of the total calories of the food is considered low saturated fat by labeling standards for packaging.
If you don’t have a label to go by, look at the ingredients. Saturated fats are mainly from animal sources such as beef, butter, cheese and egg, plus coconut and palm kernel oils. If the food item has one of these as a predominant ingredient, then consider passing on it. Saturated fats are notably high in ribs, sausage, pizza, meatballs, burgers, curry dishes, hollandaise sauce, quiche, omelets, and gourmet ice cream.
Telling what’s high or low in saturated fat at a restaurant entails a little detective work. Some things that seem innocent can be laden with saturated fat because of preparation. Anything sautéed has lots of butter, ‘chowder’ has cream, ‘stuffed’ or ‘loaded’ probably have cheese, and ‘crispy’ chicken has the skin on. Read the menu description carefully to see if bacon, cream, or egg adorn the item, such as bacon wrapped asparagus. Cobb salad is the antithesis of low saturated fat as it’s full of egg, blue cheese and bacon. A triple whammy!
Some foods are naturally low in fat, like fruits and vegetables (except avocado & olives), grains (like quinoa, brown rice & oats), skim milk, legumes (except soybeans) and most white fish and shell fish. Make these the basis of your meals and you’ll do both your heart and your waistline a favor. To keep fat down, enhance flavors with spices, fresh herbs, lemon juice and vinegar instead of sauces, gravies and dressings.
Remember to look at the overall food for calories and sugar content, not just fat! Sodas and nut-free non-chocolate candy have zero fat but will not help you lose weight.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
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