Most Americans eat a diet that is too high in fat, especially saturated fats (from animal products). Don’t be one of them: Learn how to reduce fat and lower your blood pressure from U.S. News & World Report’s No. 1 ranked diet, The DASH* Diet for Hypertension: Lower Your Blood Pressure in 14 Days — Without Drugs, by Thomas Moore, M.D.
Saturated fats are the types of fat thought to be most responsible for fat-related health problems. The two other types of fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, may have beneficial effects on health when consumed in moderation and as part of a healthy diet.
The DASH diet is low in total fat and saturated fat for two main reasons: to make room for foods rich in nutrients known to lower blood pressure and to lower cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart disease (a diet high in saturated fats causes cholesterol and other fatty substances to collect on the walls of your blood vessels). Although unsaturated fats may have health benefits, from the point of view of weight loss and weight control, they are as high in calories as saturated fats. Therefore, all fats need to be reduced in our diets to keep calories down.
When you’re eating the DASH diet, only 27 percent of your diet is fat, compared to the average American diet, which is 34 percent fat. The DASH diet’s 27 percent fat content is consistent with the American Heart Association’s recommendations. Saturated fats account for only 6 percent of the DASH diet, while the average American diet is 16 percent saturated fat. The fats in the DASH diet come from meats, dairy, and grains, as well as from fats added to meals in the form of salad dressings, margarine or butter, and jellies and jams.
These are some ways you can trim some fat from your diet:
• Select lean cuts of meat, such as loin and round cuts, and trim all visible fat.
• Buy lower-fat versions of your favorite dairy products, such as skim milk and skim-milk-based cheeses.
• For added flavor, use herbs and spices in place of high-fat flavorings or sauces on vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish.
• Chill soups and stews and skim off the fat that collects on the surface.
• Choose low-fat or nonfat versions of your favorite salad dressings, mayonnaise, yogurt, and sour cream.
• Use low-fat or fat-free marinades to tenderize and add flavor to leaner cuts of meat.
• Use polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil whenever a recipe calls for melted shortening or butter.
• Use vegetable-oil margarine in place of butter or lard. Look for whipped lower-fat tub margarine.