By Jennifer Patzkowsky, MS, RDN, LDN, Publix Corporate Dietitian
Saturated fat is everywhere, especially in some of our favorite foods, like burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and pizza. Depending on how they are prepared, meat, poultry, and seafood dishes may be high in saturated fat. Other, not-so-obvious sources include rice and pasta, when in mixed dishes with cheeses and oils, such as lasagna, macaroni and cheese, or casseroles. Just two slices of pepperoni pizza may contain over half of the daily recommendation for saturated fat.
But don't worry; you don't have to give up your favorite foods. Check out these strategies to lower saturated fat, while increasing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:
- Have one fewer slice of pizza and leave room for a side salad or other vegetable. Also, consider adding vegetables or choosing lower-fat meats like Canadian bacon as toppings.
- When shopping, use Publix Better Choice tags to easily select staple food options, such as dairy, lunch meats, and snacks, with less saturated fat.
- For your favorite casseroles, add more vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free cheeses in place of fatty meats and regular cheeses.
- Make smart substitutions. For example, when making tacos, start with lean ground beef (93/7 or 90/10) or ground turkey breast. Use less meat and add vegetables like bell peppers and black beans. Try low-fat cheese and sour cream. Include avocado as your monounsaturated fat.
- Two times a week, eat fish with omega-3 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fat), such as salmon or tuna.
- In recipes, use low-fat plain Greek yogurt instead of cream or regular sour cream.
- Choose cuts of beef and pork with the words round or loin in the name, such as sirloin, tenderloin, or top round steak.
- Snack on nuts and seeds in moderation.
Discover more saturated fat-lowering ideas here.
Exploring the Mediterranean Diet
Dietary traditions of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea feature plentiful fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and cereals, olive oil, and fish. Low to moderate intake of dairy products and red meat, and moderate intake of wine with meals, are also typical.
As one of the eating patterns included in the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Mediterranean diet offers an excellent pathway for people seeking to lower saturated fat and increase mono- and polyunsaturated fat intake.
How to get started:
1. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Incorporate vegetables either as part of the main dish or as side items. Add vegetables to boost the flavor and nutrition of your favorite comfort classics such as casseroles, soups, and stews. Complement your meal with a simple salad or oven-roasted medley of vegetables. Boost your morning cereal or oatmeal with a handful of strawberries or other berries. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit available for snacking.
2. Put meat to the side. Typically, meat is the center of the plate, but with a Mediterranean style of eating, you serve smaller amounts. For example, add diced chicken breast to a vegetable sauté, or thread sirloin tips with peppers and onions on kabobs. As a main course, have smaller portions (3 ounces is the size of a deck of cards) of chicken and lean meat.
3. Enjoy dairy products in moderation. Eat low-fat Greek or low-fat plain yogurt as a parfait with fresh fruit. Use low-fat cheese—including part-skim mozzarella or flavorful cheeses such as Brie, feta, or Parmigiano-Reggiano—in smaller amounts.
4. Eat low to moderate amounts (up to 3.5 ounces per serving) of seafood twice a week. Tuna, salmon, herring, and sardines are lean sources of protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Wrap the fish in parchment paper with lemons, onions, garlic, and herbs. Bake it in the oven for a quick and easy dinner.
5. Use good fats. Include sources of healthy fats in moderation, especially extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, olives, and avocados. Mix up a handful of unsalted nuts and dried fruits for a quick snack. Drizzle olive oil on salads and steamed vegetables.
6. Switch to whole grains. Whole grains like bulgur, barley, brown rice, quinoa, and farro provide fiber, protein, B vitamins, and iron. Use these grains like rice in your favorite dishes, including risottos, pilafs, salads, and soups.
7. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit for dessert. Serve poached pears or fresh fruit compote to end your meal on a sweet note.
Learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.