Fat in food is a concentrated source of calories. Choosing to eat low-fat foods can lower your total calorie intake and help you better manage your weight. However, not all low-fat foods are equal. For health, choose nutrient-dense low-fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, certain dairy foods and lean sources of protein.
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Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in vitamins, fiber and minerals and low in both calories and fat. Increased intake of fruits and vegetables will lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Healthy fruit choices include all fresh, frozen, dried and unsweetened canned fruit. To lower your fat intake, choose fruits as snacks instead of chips and incorporate them as your mealtime dessert instead of cake or ice cream.
Healthy vegetables choices include all fresh, frozen and low-sodium canned vegetables. To limit your fat intake and retain nutritional value, eat vegetables steamed or raw. Use sauces and salad dressings sparingly, because they can be high in fat.
Whole-grains are also naturally low in fat and provide a significant amount of fiber in the diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends Americans to make half their grain servings whole-grains. Healthy, low-fat whole grains include whole wheat bread and bread products, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, bulgur, millet, whole-grain cereals, oatmeal, whole-grain crackers and air-popped popcorn. To keep grains low-fat during preparation, limit added fats such as butter and use low-fat sauces such as marinara and low-sodium soy sauce.
Low-Fat and Nonfat Dairy Products
Many dairy foods are high in total and saturated fat. Saturated fat in food raises blood cholesterol levels and increases your risk of heart disease. Healthy low-fat and nonfat dairy foods include skim milk, 1 percent fat milk, nonfat and low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese. When label reading, look for dairy foods with less than 3g of fat per serving.
Lean Meats and Beans
Meat and beans provide protein, iron and zinc. Like dairy foods, meats can also be a source of saturated fat. Healthy low-fat lean meat foods include skinless white meat poultry, fish, pork tenderloin, top sirloin, lean ground meat and 95 percent fat-free luncheon meats. Bake, broil or grill meats as a low-fat cooking method. Beans are naturally low in fat and high in fiber, and they make a healthy meat alternative. Substitute beans for meat in salads, pasta and rice dishes.