There are different types of fats in food, and if you are trying to eat healthy, saturated fat is the one you most want to avoid. Not only because they are, well, fattening, but because saturated fats can also raise your cholesterol levels, leading to a whole bunch of heart health concerns. It is also linked to a higher risk of diabetes. Saturated fats can be hard on the stomach too, so if you have a sensitive stomach, you might find some relief by cutting them out of your diet.
What are Saturated Fats?
Saturated fats are typically found from animals, particularly in red meat and dairy but they can also be found in poultry and eggs. You can also get saturated fats from certain oils such as coconut, palm, and peanut oil.
Generally, we do not eat tons of high fat foods in our house, though we do tend to see a bit more of it on our plates when we eat out. We try to eat in a way that limits our saturated fat intake but still allows us to eat satisfying foods. Frankly, it’s not solely for health purposes since we are constantly trying to watch our weight as well and studies show that saturated fats can influence a person’s obesity risk. Plus, it sure is hard to teach kids healthy eating habits if we aren’t practicing them ourselves!
15 Ways to Reduce Your Saturated Fat Intake
Want to reduce the saturated fat intake at your house? Here are some easy tricks that may be helpful:
- Choose lean meats. The leaner, the better.
- Also look for grass-fed meats. Grass fed meats tend to have more nutritional value.
- Remove fat from meats and skim them off of broths whenever possible. You can also remove the skin on chicken before eating it.
- Cook with healthier oils such as olive oil rather than using butter or margarine. When you make the change, though, keep an eye on your portion size. You probably do not want to replace a pat of butter with a cup of oil.
- Replace full fat dairy with reduced fat dairy. That one is easy, right? It tastes just as good and your cholesterol will thank you.
- Bake instead of fry, or use one of those new lean fryers that requires little to no oil. There are several great ones on the market. We have the Sharper Image Super Wave Oven and use it constantly.
- Eliminate heavy salad dressings and cream sauces as well as full fat mayonnaise. Lay off the Alfredo too! You can replace them with lighter options such as balsamic vinegar. If you absolutely must use that high fat mayo, butter, or dressing on your dish, use the old salad dressing trick. Dip your fork in the bowl before you pick up the piece of food. That way you will have the taste to savor with your food, but will not be consume as much fat as if you dipped the piece of food itself.
- Try taking cheese out of your sandwiches. If you want to bulk up that sandwich (or sub, hoagie, hero or whatever you call it where you live) replace the cheese with lettuce, a little avocado or honey mustard instead. Everything tastes better with a little avocado!
- Replace full fat dairy, such as ice cream, with a lighter version or with a low-fat frozen yogurt. Better yet, make yourself a treat with the creaminess of ice cream using fruits in a Vitamix or another high powered blender. We love our Vitamix, and we also make an amazing creamy dessert with bananas in our Champion Commercial Juicer. (They were both an investment, but so worth it.)
- When you can, lessen the proportion of ground meat or poultry in a recipe and in its place add beans, organic tofu or vegetables. You will still get to enjoy your favorite meal while cutting down on the saturated fat.
- Or, you can go meatless! You can start with one meatless meal a week (such as Meatless Mondays), and then move up to two or more. There are tons of recipes out there, so your family will be sure to find a meatless meal that everyone can enjoy.
- Watch your popcorn intake, especially at the movies where it tends to be made with oil that is high in saturated fat and then drenched in butter. If you just cant’t enjoy a movie without popcorn, bring your own bags of (preferably GMO free) popcorn made without butter. I promise that you will like the movie just as much as if you bought the popcorn at the theatre.
- When baking, consider replacing an egg or some of the margarine with applesauce instead. It will cut down on saturated fat and help maintain moisture. This trick works great for muffins and cakes.
- Margarine has less saturated fat than butter. While I’m not a huge fan or margarine, if a recipe calls for two sticks of butter, consider replacing one of those with margarine instead. However, be sure to look for a margarine that is low in trans fats, so you aren’t replacing one type of bad fat for another.
- Split it. If you truly cannot live without that food or make it in such a way that reduces the saturated fat content, then reduce your portion size by splitting the meal with family or friends.