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Low-Fat Food List to Make Grocery Shopping Successful

Not all low-fat food is created the same, as commercial products often contain excess sugar and additives. Add these naturally, low-fat foods to your next grocery list for successful shopping.

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"Low-fat" or "fat-free" diets are often implemented in hopes to lose weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, yet individuals often misinterpret all low-fat food as an indicator of health.

But not all low-fat food is created the same, as commercially produced low-fat foods often contain excess sugar and additives.

Besides, fat is an integral component of a balanced diet and avoiding it without reason can be counterproductive to weight loss and compromise overall health.

However, there are situations that may justify limiting fat in the diet. For instance, low-fat diets are often recommended to individuals managing or disease of the gallbladder or pancreas and other malabsorption conditions.

Consuming low-fat food and meals can also help control acid reflux, weight, and cholesterol levels.

If recommended to to a low to no-fat diet, add these naturally low-fat foods to your next grocery list!

Low-Fat Food List

Whole Grains

When it comes to whole grain products, they are naturally low in fat and high in fiber and other valuable nutrients. As a general rule of thumb, include two to three servings of whole grains into a balanced diet:

• Whole grain breads, including English muffins and bagels
• Whole grain pasta and noodles, just choose red sauces or moderate heavy creamed sauces
• All rice, though brown rice offers more fiber, protein, and other nutrients compared to white rice
• Oats and cream of wheat, just limit the butter and sugar atop
• Quinoa, which is similar to rice but also considered a complete protein source
• Corn and popcorn, just be mindful of added butter and salt

Meats and Plant-Based Proteins

Most animal products contain saturated fat. Though too much may negatively impact health, their intake is encouraged in moderated amounts and can also be low in fat:

• Lean and ground beef
• Poultry products, including chicken and turkey with skin removed
• Fish and shellfish, including cod, pollock, tilapia, and shrimp
• Eggs, especially egg whites or egg substitutes
• Beans, including black beans, chili beans, kidney beans and pinto beans
• Lentils in all color forms

Milk and Dairy Products

Dairy products provide the body with essential nutrients that keep the body healthy. "Good for you" dairy products include:

• Low-fat or skim milk
• Fat-free or part-skim cheeses, including string cheese sticks and cottage cheese
• Reduced fat Greek yogurt, just be sure to check the nutrition and ingredient labels for added sugars

Fruits and Vegetables

Almost all fresh herbs, fruits and veggies are naturally absent of fat. Incorporating these plant-based products contribute to a healthy low-fat diet, all while offering phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients beneficial to health:

• Avocado is one of the exceptions to the fat rule, as the fruit contains high amounts of monounsaturated fat; consume in modest amounts, as they are loaded with valuable nutrients
• Vibrant berries including blueberries, strawberries and blackberries
• Other colorful and nutrient-rich fruits including apples, bananas and oranges
• All dark green, leafy vegetables including romaine lettuce, kale and spinach
• Cruciferous veggies, including broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage
• Root veggies and starches, including onions, beets, turnips, carrots and sweet potatoes
• Vibrant herbs offer flavor without loading up on salt and sodium

Which Fats Are Recommended?

Unless directed by a healthcare provider, significantly reducing or eliminating fat is often unnecessary.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 25 to 35 percent of total daily calories coming from fat. However, fats are not handled equally in the body.

So when it comes to dietary fat intake, various types should be avoided, limited, and used more often based on their function. 

Avoid: Trans Fats

With such negative consequences on health, it is no wonder why the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared the elimination of trans fat in the food supply.

Besides, the AHA advises reducing trans fat intake to less than 1 percent, as their intake can lower HDL levels, raise LDL levels, and increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Trans fats can be identified as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and are often found in a wide variety of convenience and commercially-prepared products, including fried foods, chips, pastries and donuts.

Limit: Saturated Fats

Despite popular belief, saturated fat products can fit into a well-balanced diet. The importance, though, is keeping their intake in modest amounts and sticking to serving sizes.

The AHA advises saturated fat intake advises reducing saturated fats to less than 5 to 6 percent. Healthful saturated fat products include most dairy products, beef, eggs and coconut oil.

Use More of: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

The majority of fat consumption should ideally come from those "healthy" unsaturated fats, or more specifically monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

Swapping out trans and saturated fats with MUFAs and PUFAs can offer satiety while protecting from heart disease and chronic inflammation in the body.

Monounsaturated fat come from avocados, nuts and their correlated nut butters and vegetable oils including canola and olive oils while PUFAs are further broken down into omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3s are highly recognized in the literature for their antioxidant and heart-protective properties. Sources include seed oils, chia seeds, tofu and fatty fish including herring, tuna, salmon and trout.

Putting the Low-Fat Food List to Use

Need a little inspiration utilizing the low-fat food list? We have you covered! Stick to a low-fat diet with a few of these well-balanced, flavor-filled meal ideas!

• Yogurt Parfaits

Instead of convenience yogurts and parfaits loaded with fat and sugar, create your own at home! Layer plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries, oats and a light drizzle of your favorite nut butter. The breakfast or snack combination is heart-protective and boasting with protein that will keep you satisfied for hours!

• Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Create an Asian-inspired dish without all the added calories from fat-laden and sugary sauces with bistroMD's beef and broccoli recipe. Prepare beef to desired internal temperature (well, medium-well, etc.) and mix into steamed broccoli and brown rice or quinoa. Drizzle with soy sauce and top with chopped scallions and peanuts.

• Vegetarian Chili

Chili is a fiber and protein powerhouse, even without ground meat! Skip out on the beef and turkey and use strictly beans including chili and kidney beans. Add favorite chili seasoning and throw in fresh tomatoes and other chopped and diced veggies for added nutrients!

• Fish Tacos

Fish and shellfish contain those healthy fats along with ample amounts of protein all at a low calorie cost. Use a whole grain tortilla and layer fish, fresh tomatoes and lettuce, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice!

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on May 22, 2013. Updated on September 20, 2019.

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