A rule of thumb is to read the ingredients of any processed food you intend to eat. Food processors add fat-carrying ingredients to enhance flavor and to improve texture. You may be surprised in which prepared foods you find noticeable fat content.
Also check the composition of raw foods you will cook. Cheese and other dairy products naturally contain both fat and cholesterol, but fat-reduced versions often are available. Meat, including red meat and poultry, should be lean to minimize your intake of fat. Even fish contain fat.
You cannot and should not cut out all dietary fat, but charting what you take in leads to a heart-healthy diet.
A breakfast egg without cheese or meat contains 5 grams (8 percent daily allowance) of fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, and more than half the recommended daily cholesterol quota. Egg whites or egg substitutes are rich in protein and are without fat or cholesterol. Low-fat or skim milk keeps cereal heart-friendly. Fruits and vegetables have no fat. Enjoy toast with honey instead of butter, and stay away from fatty breads like cinnamon rolls and coffeecake. Mix your own pancake and waffle batter to trim the fat content.
Limit the amount of meat and cheese on your sandwich. Spread mustard instead of mayonnaise or butter. Avoid mayonnaise- and sour-cream-dressed sandwich fillings. Soy-peanut butter carries only 1.2 grams, about as much as a single egg, and reduced-fat peanut butter is somewhat lower in fat than its regular cousin. Load your sandwich with vegetables and all sorts of pickles. Eat fruit or carrot sticks instead of chips.
Consider delicious Mexican food: meatless tacos consisting of tortillas, re-fried beans, salsa, vegetables and a touch of grated cheese. Nut butters are high in unsaturated fat.
Substitute fish or poultry for steak or ground beef, and you will reduce fat intake. Fish--cod, yellowfin tuna, perch and snapper, for example--contain little fat. Salmon, shad and mackerel contain significantly more. White poultry meat is quite low in fat. Legumes have little fat; even "high-fat" garbanzo beans are comparatively low at 2.6 grams per 160-calorie serving.
Side dishes prepared without butter or sour cream add bulk to a low-fat dinner. Raw and cooked vegetables, fruit salads, grains and potatoes taste delicious and fill you up, fat free. Substitute olive or other vegetable oil for butter when cooking and dressing bread, vegetables and salads. Vegetable oils need no refrigeration.
Between meals, snack on fresh and dried fruits, raw vegetables, fruit leather and dates. Avoid commercial trail mix, which usually contains a high proportion of peanuts, and make your own from bulk dried fruits. In cool weather, roast chestnuts: a half-cup serving contains under 1 gram of fat. Chewing gum and hard candies are mostly free of fat and are a great pick-me-up.
Water, tea, coffee and fruit juices have no fat unless you add it. Powdered electrolyte drinks also are fat-free and help your body stay well hydrated. Watch out for the sugar content of sodas and powdered ades. Although they're fat-free, they're high in calories. If a cup of hot cocoa helps you fall asleep, choose low-fat pre-packaged mixes or make your own from powdered no-fat milk, cocoa and sugar.