Eat This, Not That to Save on Fat

Watching your fat intake? Keep these better choices in mind when strolling the grocery aisles. You'll be surprised by where you can save on fat (hint: chocolate chip cookies make the cut).

By Laura Marzen, R.D., L.D.


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Eat This, Not That to Save on Fat
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    Looking to cut the fat in your diet? We've got simple swaps and eat-out tips that can help you make the best choice at breakfast, dinner, and every munch in between. These swaps save you calories, too. Fat has about 9 calories per gram, so cutting fat can quickly save your diet.

    Note: The fat amounts shown in the following slideshow were gathered from packaged food labels and USDA nutrition information data. Average levels were used when multiple levels existed.

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Choose Hummus Over Cream Cheese

    Choose: 2 tablespoons purchased hummus (2 g fat)

    Skip: 2 tablespoons regular cream cheese (10 g fat)

    Cream cheese has five times more fat than hummus -- yikes! Hummus is mostly beans, which contain next to no fat, but cream cheese contains bad-for-you saturated fat. Eating half a whole wheat bagel with the spreads adds 1 gram of fat.

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Choose Feta Cheese Over Cheddar Cheese

    Choose: 1 ounce feta cheese (6 g fat)

    Skip: 1 ounce cheddar cheese (9 g fat)

    The fat difference between these two cheeses is due to the cheesemaking process and the type of milk used. If you're watching sodium, however, note that feta has 190 mg of sodium, one of the highest levels for cheese. Because feta is rich in flavor, you can use less of it in recipes and still get plenty of great taste.

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Choose a Waffle Over a Biscuit

    Choose: One 7-inch waffle (4 g fat)

    Skip: One 2-1/2-inch biscuit (7 g fat)

    Traditional biscuits, quick breads, and muffins need fat to get tender and moist, so they weigh in heavier than their fellow breakfast staple, waffles.

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Choose Beef Sirloin Over a Chicken Thigh

    Choose: 3 ounces grilled beef sirloin (6 g fat)

    Skip: 3 ounces grilled skinless, boneless chicken thigh (9 g fat)

    The dark meat of chicken thighs, even without the skin, is fairly high in fat, while some cuts of beef, such as sirloin, contain very little fat. If you like chicken best, pick chicken breast meat cooked without the skin -- it has just 3.5 grams of fat.

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Choose Chocolate Chip Cookies Over Trail Mix

    Choose: Two 2-1/2-inch chocolate chip cookies (8 g fat)

    Skip: 1/2 cup fruit-and-nut trail mix (20 g fat)

    Surprised? Trail mix contains nuts and sometimes chocolate, which add lots of fat and calories. Just 1/2 cup of the mix has more than twice the fat of two chocolate chip cookies.

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Choose a Tuna Salad Over Egg Salad

    Choose: 1/2 cup deli tuna salad (13 g fat)

    Skip: 1/2 cup deli egg salad (15 g fat)

    Eggs are naturally higher in fat than tuna, causing the disparity between the two similar dressings. One slice of whole wheat bread adds about 2 grams of fat.

    Tuna also made Cleveland Clinic's list of top three proteins for heart health. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of several cardiovascular problems.

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Choose an Italian Dressing Over a Ranch Dressing

    Choose: 2 tablespoons light Italian salad dressing (4 g fat)

    Skip: 2 tablespoons light ranch salad dressing (6 g fat)

    The ingredients that make up the ranch dressing contain more fat than vinegar-based dressings like Italian. Note how much you're putting on your salad as well. It's easy to drizzle more than a serving size of either dressing on your lunch. Measure it out before you begin or, better yet, get the dressing on the side and simply dip your fork into it before taking a bite.

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Tips for Saving Fat at Restaurants

    These dining-out solutions can keep the fat in check when you're not tonight's chef.

    Ask for toppings, sauces, and dressings to be served on the side.

    Look for foods that are grilled, baked, steamed, or roasted.

    Don't butter your rolls.

    Avoid foods that are listed as fried, au gratin, creamed, scalloped, or breaded.

    Choose lean meats, such as poultry or seafood.

    Look for healthy or light options on menus (these are your best bets).

    Hold the mayonnaise on sandwiches and burgers.

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