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Reducing Fat in Your Diet

Fats are concentrated sources of calories. Some also raise your blood cholesterol levels. There are four different types of fat in food: saturated, trans, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Let's take a quick look at each.

Saturated fats are one of the bad guys of the fat world, because they tend to raise blood cholesterol levels. These fats are found in meat and dairy products. They are also found in some vegetable oils, including coconut and palm kernel oil.

Trans fats are produced by a chemical process called hydrogenation.  This process makes a liquid oil into a solid fat.  This type of fat raises bad cholesterol and increases heart disease risk.  Shortening, cookies, and crackers may contain this type of fat.

Monounsaturated fats are the good guys. They are found in both plant and animal fats. Nuts, olive, peanut, and canola oil, and some margarines all contain this type of fat. Substituting monounsaturated for saturated fat helps reduce LDL (bad) blood cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in foods derived from plants. Walnuts, safflower, sunflower, corn, canola, soybean and cottonseed oils contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fats. This type of fat is usually liquid at room temperature. It tends to lower blood cholesterol levels.

For Better Cardio Health

Since people with diabetes are already at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, it's vital to limit intake of fat, especially saturated and trans fat. Meals do not have to be high in fat to taste good. Here are some tips to help you cut fat from your diet:

Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables, fresh, frozen or canned, contain no cholesterol and are almost always low in saturated fat. They also provide essential vitamins and minerals. A word of caution however, fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrate so be sure to count them in your meal plan. Choose canned fruit in fruit juice instead of syrup.  Also, canned vegetables may contain salt. Read the labels and choose low sodium canned vegetables!

Instead of regular hard cheese, consider low-fat cottage cheese, which is lower in saturated fats. Choose low-fat cheeses that have between two and six grams per ounce.

More and more evidence suggests fish is good for your heart. Omega 3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats found in fish oils, seem to have particular health benefits. Fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring are the best sources of this type of fat. Challenge yourself to eat fish - fresh or frozen - at least twice a week. If you choose canned fish, make sure it is packed in water, not oil. When cooking fish, poach, broil or bake - don't fry. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor or dietitian about what types of fish you can eat.

Skinless poultry is generally lower in saturated fat than red meat. Chicken is also very versatile. You can make an amazing variety of delicious dishes with chicken. In fact, it's hard to run out of good recipes! Limit your portion size to about three or four ounces twice a day, and choose white meat over dark. Be sure to remove the skin from poultry before cooking.

Drink non-fat or 1% milk, rather than 2% or whole milk. Switch to low or non-fat cheeses and dairy products. Evaporated skim milk (canned) makes a good low fat substitute for half-and-half or cream.

Choose the liquid vegetable oils that are highest in monounsaturated fat. These include canola, corn, olive, sesame, almond and peanut oil.

By using a little creativity, and experimenting, you can often find substitutes for favorite foods that are high in fat. Try low-fat or non-fat yogurt instead of regular yogurt in recipes or as a topping. Substitute low or non-fat sour creams, mayonnaise and margarines for the regular versions. Ice milk, low-fat frozen yogurt, sorbet and popsicles are great substitutes for ice cream. Don't forget to consider the carbohydrate content.

Tips for reducing fats and cholesterol

Here are some tips to help you cut fat and cholesterol while still cooking great meals:

• Bake, broil, roast, steam or braise meat and poultry. Avoid frying!
• Steam vegetables. Don't add fat.
• Use the microwave for fat-free cooking.
• Use non-stick cookware, a non-stick spray, or sauté foods in broth
   instead of frying them in oil or butter.
• Season vegetables with herbs and spices instead of fatty sauces,
   butter or margarine.
• Use vegetable oil in place of solid shortening, margarine or butter.
• Replace whole milk with low fat or non-fat milk in puddings, soups
  and baked products as well as with cereal or for drinking.
• Cook meat and poultry on a rack, so the fat will drain off.

The contents of DiabetesOutlook.com are intended solely for informational purposes and do not replace the advice of your physician or diabetes care team. You should not rely on any information provided by DiabetesOutlook.com without also consulting your physician. DiabetesOutlook.com maintains all information collected in accordance with applicable law.

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