Each and every nutrient, when taken in the right quantity, has its own role to play in the body, and fats are no exception. Besides, there are two kinds of fats—saturated and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats refer to monounsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. These are considered healthy fats and are great for cardiovascular health. Saturated fats, on the other hand, have a chemical composition in which the carbon atoms are saturated by hydrogen atoms. Excess intake of these fats is harmful and it is advisable to limit their consumption.
Top 10 Foods Included in Low Saturated Fat Diet:
Saturated fats are associated with several health problems including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, strokes, high blood pressure, rise in cholesterol levels and even cancer. Now the question may arise as to how one can limit the consumption of saturated fats. This is only possible by restricting the consumption of foods which are high in saturated fats and replacing them with other foods that are good sources of healthy unsaturated fats and contain minimal saturated fats. So let us discover some foods low in saturated fats:
1. Fruits and Vegetables:
Fruits and vegetables have always been considered a healthy food choice as most of them contain negligible amounts of saturated fat. Besides, they are packed with healthy antioxidants, vitamins and minerals too. Even canned, dried and frozen fruits are excellent food choices of low saturated fat.
However, preserving and packaging loads them with unhealthy saturated fat. To prevent this, avoid cooking vegetables in butter and sauces. Steaming them is a good option. Always opt for frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned ones as the former are healthier and low in saturated fat. It is advisable to eat fresh whole versions and ensure to have minimum five servings of fruits and veggies in a day.
As we all know, grains include cereal, bread, pasta, beans and rice. Whole wheat and multi grain sources of these products like whole grain rice, pasta, bread and cereal are low in saturated fat. Other sources include oatmeal, dried beans and sweet potatoes. Granola cereals, store brought pancakes, biscuits and muffins should be avoided as also should baked goods like pastries and store bought crackers. Similarly, products containing or prepared with lard, butter or hydrogenated oils are the highest grain sources of saturated fat. While purchasing grains or grain products, ensure that the first ingredient listed on the package is whole grain or whole wheat. Apart from whole grain products, white breads listed as containing ‘enriched flour’ also contain low saturated fat though it is not as low as whole grains. Ensure to have at least 11 servings of a variety of cereal, pita bread, loaf bread, oatmeal, rice, crackers, pasta and bagels in a day.
3. Lean Meat:
Meat products are generally considered high sources of saturated fat. However, you can minimize your intake of saturated fat by making the right meat choices. Lean meats are a great food choice for keeping your saturated fat count low. While buying lean meat products, always read the pack carefully to determine the fat content. Chicken and fish are fairly lean but beef and pork have a comparatively higher fat content. Chicken is quite versatile in this regard. Always opt for skinless chicken and avoid dark meat. Besides, it is better to broil, bake or roast the meat. While frying, olive or canola oil should be used. Processed meats, hot dogs, bacon and fried food should be avoided.
4. Egg Whites:
Eggs are often criticized for increasing the cholesterol levels in the body. However, egg whites are a great source of protein. They are also included in low saturated fat foods list. Just a cup of egg whites provides you with 26 grams of protein. An omelet made from scrambled eggs provides energy and essential amino acids that are not available naturally.
5. Low Fat Dairy Products:
Dairy products made with whole milk are high in saturated fat and should be avoided. On the other hand, dairy products made with skim milk generally contains 1% or less milk fat. These include buttermilk, cottage cheese, non-fat yogurt, sherbet, non-fat sour cream and cheese made from skim milk. Hard cheese like cheddar, American and Swiss varieties as well as ice cream and whipped cream should be avoided. It is advisable to have 2 to 3 servings of low fat dairy products in a day. Pregnant and nursing women should have at least 4 servings.
6. Cottage Cheese:
Cottage cheese is a dairy product which is extremely low in saturated fat. A half cup serving of cottage cheese provides you with 90 calories, 16 grams protein and just 1 gram fat. So this cheese can be preferred as a topping for your pizzas or used in cheese sandwiches.
7. Beans and Peas:
Beans and peas are a good source of protein and fiber and contain negligible amount of fat. Besides, they are extremely versatile and can be served with any meal. Always opt for dried peas and beans consisting of black eyed peas, black beans, lima beans, navy beans, soy beans, pinto beans and tofu. A cup of cooked black beans contain 113 calories, 7.6 grams protein with a negligible fat of 0.5 grams.
8. Wild Salmon:
If you are looking for a non vegetarian source of protein and a low saturated fat diet, then salmon is probably the right choice for you. Besides, it is packed with healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are not produced by the body but are needed for a healthy existence. A serving of 3 ounces of salmon contains 121 calories, 16.9 grams protein and just 5.4 grams fat most of which is unsaturated. Always opt for wild caught salmon to avoid the artificial food coloring.
9. Spices and Condiments:
Certain spices and condiments used for flavoring foods contain negligible or no fat. Oils like canola, olive, corn and soy beans should be used for the purpose of cooking to minimize the consumption of saturated fat. Butter can be replaced with margarine. Other spices like garlic, onion powder and Italian seasoning do not contain saturated fat. Similarly condiments like ketchup, mustard or vinegar should be used instead of mayonnaise.
Snacks are often loaded with unhealthy saturated fats as most of them are processed foods with artificial flavorings. However, there are certain snacks which contain low amount of saturated fats. These include animal crackers, cocoa, pretzels, popcorn, juices, fig bars and graham crackers.
So these were some of the best foods with low saturated fats. To minimize the consumption of saturated fat, it is advisable to make these foods a part of your regular diet. With a little tweaking, your diet can become healthy and saturated fat free. With the right food choices, your body can thrive and live a healthy life!
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