Monday, October 30, 2006

Lowering Dietary Fat Intake

There are several effective ways to substantially lower dietary fat without sacrificing taste. The many non-fat dairy products, including milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, regular cheese and even butter substitutes, absolutely do not have the same flavor as their full-fatted cousins.

How can the fats be lowered and the tastes be maintained?

With some non-fat products, it is simply a matter of becoming accustomed to them. For example, after drinking only non-fat milk for several months, regular milk will seem too fatty, almost like cream. Some people claim to have lost the desire for the full-fat versions.

It may be helpful to gradually make the move to non-fat products. For example, blend 2% milk with non-fat, and slowly increase the amount of the non-fat milk. This can be done over several days or even weeks.

With cheese, the non-fat version does not melt like the fattier kinds. The answer? Using shredded cheese as an example, make the bulk of the cheese non-fat, but top it with a little regular cheese. The small amount of fat will help all the cheese melt.

In baking, fats are not necessary. Oil and eggs can be completely omitted. Texture and taste is not compromised by substituting applesauce, non-fat sour cream or prune puree, and they contain no fat! One caution; the non-fat margarine and butter spreads cannot be used successfully in baking.

For dishes such as scalloped potatoes, use non-fat milk and a product like "Butter Buds." The fat is gone, but the flavor remains!

Substituting one food item for another can also substantially lower fats in the diet. For example, by using jam or jelly instead of butter, toast becomes nearly fat-free. Eating chicken or fish instead of beef is another obvious way to lower fat intake. Topping vegetables with spices rather than creamy sauces is another fairly simple way to avoid fat.

Many commercial products now contain "olestra," a synthesized fat with molecules too large to be absorbed in the intestinal tract. Such foods as non-fat ice cream are satisfying or not depending upon the product and the person eating them, but olestra gives the creamy texture that once came only from fats.

Olestra is also used in potato chips. Some people claim they cannot tell the difference between the fat-free version and the full-fatted kind. The one drawback to eating foods containing olestra, is they may cause "intestinal distress," including excessive gas, bloating and diarrhea. There is also concern over olestra binding to fat-soluble vitamins and passing them out of the body, perhaps causing a vitamin deficiency in some people.

Here's a helpful hint

The trick to lowering fats in the diet is not to completely eliminate them. Some fat is necessary and healthy. The best way to keep fats under control is to substitute when possible, and keep in mind that moderation is the key.