Simple Ways to Swap Out Saturated Fats

While consuming too much of any fat is not great -- fat equals calories, and a little bit adds up fast -- completely cutting out fat is also unhealthy. Your body needs fat for fuel, both to utilize fat-soluble vitamins and for the satisfaction and satiety that keep you from overloading on calories. Scientists now understand that certain healthy fats, particularly fatty acids like omega-3s, may be good for your cardiovascular health. The trick is limiting bad-fat consumption (saturated fats and trans fats are the worst offenders) and replacing those no-no’s with good fats, such as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 fatty acids. Read on for fat swaps you can feel good about.

Switch Butter for Olive Oil

Butter is a saturated fat, which is linked to higher cholesterol levels. Olive oil is monounsaturated fat, which may help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol. More than just a salad dressing, olive oil can be used in place of butter or vegetable oil in many baking recipes too.

Lighten Up Your Meat

No one says you have to refuse every rib eye or juicy burger you see. The same goes for chicken with the skin on or other fatty meats. But enjoy those foods, which are high in saturated fat, as only occasional treats and opt for smaller portions and leaner cuts when filling you plate. For example an 8-ounce rib eye has 492 calories and 27 grams of fat—10 grams of which are saturated, while a 3-ounce portion of flank steak (about the size of a deck of cards) has just 172 calories and 8 grams of total fat, with only 3 grams of them being saturated Meanwhile, add a couple servings a week of omega-3 fatty acid–rich fish, such as salmon and white albacore tuna canned in water.

Replace Cookies, Cakes, Doughnuts With … Anything

What you’ll find in these goodies: trans fats. When baking at home skip the shortening and butter, and when shopping at the grocery store look for the words “partially hydrogenated” on labels. Those are the oils that help keep these foods shelf-stable, and there’s nothing good about them. Eat these products very sparingly. If your sweet tooth beckons, have one delicious homemade chocolate chip cookie or a bowl of a sweet-tasting cereal. Or try a serving of low-fat frozen yogurt.

Forgo Peanut Butter for Almond Butter: Both nut butters are high in fat and calories, so you should look for varieties that skip added ingredients like sugar, corn syrup, and palm oil. But almond butter edges out peanut thanks to less saturated fat and more monounsaturated fat.

by the Publishers of Prevention