Yes, we need fats in out diet! However, most North Americans already consume this energy-dense nutrient in excess… And we all know that too much is like not enough. Keep on reading to learn about tips to reduce the amount of harmful fats in your daily food habits.
1. Limit ultra-transformed foods
When grocery shopping, try going for fresh foods that have been natural fresh foods (meat, egg, vegetables, fruit), basic ingredients (flour, milk, vegetable oils) or minimally transformed foods (rice, pasta, bread, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, dried nuts). During food transformation, the food industries tend to add more sodium, sugar, fats and additives. Therefore, reducing ultra-transformed foods, such as ready to eat pizza, bars, sweet beverages, cookies and crackers, will greatly reduce excess salt, sugar and fat intake. A trick to avoid purchasing ultra-processed foods is checking the list of ingredients in your product. First of all, the list of ingredients should be as short as possible. Preferably, you should go for products that have five ingredients or less. This is often a challenge nowadays, since industries often use a large number of ingredients and additives. Second of all, every ingredient on the list should be natural foods or ingredients that you know. You should not be able to find additives such as ‘glucose-fructose’, ‘mono-glycerides’, ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ or any other ingredients that you do not recognize as a natural food product. Finally, you should not be able to find a type of fat listed in the five first ingredients of the label. Since the ingredients in every product are written in descending order (from most present to least present in the product), a product with fat in the first ingredients will have more of it. Here are examples of bread ingredient lists that you can take a look at.
2. Limit restaurant meals and increase home cooked meals
Just like in food industries, restaurants tend to add more salt, sugar and fats than we would expect. By cooking at home using fresh ingredients, you have more control over the quality and quantity of every ingredient you use, and the food that you ingest. Remember, you are what you eat. Thus, the choice of good quality food will be beneficial for your body.
3. Use cooking methods that require little fat
Limiting fatty cooking methods, such as deep-frying and butter poaching could greatly diminish the amount of bad fats that you intake. Even though you dab away the excess oils after frying food, a lot of it has already been absorbed into the product. Try favouring cooking methods such as oven baking or roasting, steaming, boiling, grilling, micro-waving and stir-frying with less than 2 tbs of oil. If oil is necessary for cooking on the stove top, try using a non-stick pan or a cooking spray.
4. Replace fat sources in your recipes
If you use mayonnaise in sandwiches or as dip, you can simply replace it with plain 0% fat greek yogurt mixed with spices (or even home-made Tzatziki). Not only will this recipe have no fat, but it will have more protein. Greek yogurt is made by curdling milk, just like regular yogurt, and by straining the liquid (whey). This results in a thicker and more unctuous consistency, and a concentration of the milk proteins.
If you often have salads with store-bought salad dressings, try making your own salad dressings. This way, you have more control over the amount and the quality of the oils that you have, and you can adapt your recipes to your own taste. You can also go for the light version of your favorite dressing or choose the ones made from greek yogurt.
In recipes, such as cakes or brownies, you can replace half of the oils or butter by apple sauce or red bean paste (canned or cooked beans that you blend until smooth).