The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and many other health organizations recommend less than 30% of your daily calories be from fat, less than 10% o that from saturated fats and cholesterol intake less than 300 milligrams. It sounds like good advice, but how do we actually get it all to fall in place? 

A recent study conducted by Penny Kris-Etherton and Madeleine Sigman-Grant, Ph.D., R.D., professor of food science at Penn State, set out to find simple, practical ways consumers can reduce dietary fat. Using specific strategies, they modified their menus so that dietary fat would meet recommended levels. The most significant and effective strategies included substituting lean meats and low fat cheese for higher fat selections, substituting skim milk for whole or low-fat milk, and using fat-modified foods such as lower fat dressings and spreads. By making some of these changes, there is still room for those occasional higher-fat foods such as cookies and French fries.

Some health choices include:

Protein sources: Lean choices include well trimmed beef-round, sirloin, chuck and loin; most cuts of veal except ground; pork-tenderloin, fresh leg or shoulder; poultry without the skin; seafood; fish; rabbit; venison and egg whites or substitutes. Limit portion size to 3 ounces and avoid adding additional fat in preparation. Other excellent sources of low fat protein include beans and lentils.

Dairy sources: Use skim milk for drinking and cooking. Low fat cheeses include mozzarella, parmesan, romano, low-fat cottage cheese, and string cheese. Also look for the growing number of new cheeses labeled fat-free or 1/3 less fat. Low fat or fat free products such as cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and puddings are also available.

Dressings and spreads: Try margarine or shortening made with unsaturated fats such as canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, olive, soybean, or peanut oil. Many salad dressings, mayonnaises, and margarines are now available which are reduced fat or fat free.

Other dietary changes that an also be helpful in improving overall health include increasing fiber by adding fruits, vegetables, and starches (especially whole grain products); reducing the amount of salt; and increasing use of complex carbohydrates (fiber and starches) and avoiding refined carbohydrates (sugars).

As you can see, you have lots of choices. It’s all up to you. You can make good choices to protect your heart and your health!