Low-fat diet

A low-fat diet is a way of eating that includes the types of fats that are best for a person's health. A low-fat diet does not mean that no fats are eaten.

A low-fat diet includes:

  • Lean meats.
    • No more than 5 to 6½ ounces of meat a day
    • No visible fat
    • Chicken or turkey without the skin
    • Fish such as salmon, lake trout, tuna, and herring, which provide healthy omega-3 fat
    • Fish canned in water, not oil
    • Baked, broiled, or grilled meats, fowl, or fish (not fried)
  • Nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and other milk products.
    • Cheeses with less than 5 grams of fat an ounce
    • Fat-free sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, or yogurt
    • No cream soups
    • No cream sauces on pasta
    • Low-fat ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet
  • Whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, and pasta.
  • Herbs and spices (such as basil, tarragon, or mint), fat-free sauces, or lemon juice instead of butter.
  • No more than 1 tablespoon a meal of fats and oils, such as butter, margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressing.
  • Butter substitutes, fat-free mayonnaise, or fat-free dressing.
  • Applesauce, prune puree, or mashed bananas in place of the fat or oil used for baking.

A low-fat diet does not include:

  • Chocolate, whole milk, processed cheese, and egg yolks.
  • Regular ice cream.
  • Fried or buttered foods.
  • Ham, salami, and bacon.
  • High-fat foods such as croissants, scones, biscuits, waffles, doughnuts, muffins, granola, and high-fat breads.
  • Cinnamon rolls, cakes, pies, cookies, and other pastries.
  • Prepared snack foods, such as potato chips, nut and granola bars, and mixed nuts.
  • Coconuts and avocados.

Food labels show information about serving sizes and types and amounts of fat. Fast-food and convenience-food meals often have lots of fat.

Last Updated: June 30, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology

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