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Protecting Your Family from Too Much Fat

In our culture, fat might as well be a four-letter word. But the truth is, fat has been given a bum rap in some ways. It is a nutrient and, as such, plays some very important roles in maintaining health.

The concentrated calories in fat make it easier to meet children's energy needs, even when their capacity for food is small. The fat soluble vitamins (especially A, D, E, and K) are essential for growing children. And the so-called "high-fat" foods (milk, red meat, and eggs) contain many other vitamins and minerals not found in the same quantities in other foods. So we all need fat – but just not as much as many of us get.

Should we be watching how much fat our children eat? The answer is both yes and no. Fat should not be restricted in children under age 2 unless a doctor specifically recommends cutting fat. From birth to age 2, most children need extra fat because of their rapid growth. It is important at this age that children experience a variety of foods and begin to learn healthful eating habits.

For the rest of us over age 2, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting fat in our diets to 30 percent of calories.

In many cases, fat can be cut by following a few simple tips. Most recipes can be prepared with fat substitutes, without sacrificing taste. As you look at the following list of tips for reducing fat, remember that fat should be averaged over an entire meal, day, or week at a time.

Tips for reducing fat in recipes

  • Use skim, 1%, or 2% milk in cooking, instead of whole milk.
  • Remove all visible fat from meat, chicken, or turkey before cooking.
  • Select only "lean" cuts of meat.
  • Ask about the percentage of fat in ground beef, pork, chicken, or turkey.
  • Use the lower fat percentage ground meats.
  • Use fruit juices to baste roasts, fish, or other meats, instead of butter, margarine, or drippings from the meat.
  • Broil (on a rack so drippings can be discarded), boil, steam, or poach meats and vegetables, instead of frying in oil or shortening.
  • Pan-broil meats and vegetables by coating the skillet or pan with vegetable oil cooking spray, and use pans with non-stick surfaces.
  • Let meat drippings get cold so that more fat can be removed after it solidifies.
  • After boiling a chicken or other meat, let the broth get cold and then skim the solid fat off.
  • Use reduced-fat varieties of ingredients instead of the higher fat artificials, such as low-fat sour cream, cream cheese, other cheeses, and yogurt.
  • Use cheeses that are made from skim or part-skim milk.
  • Use the white of an egg instead of the whole egg in many recipes.
  • Egg substitutes may be used in many recipes for whole eggs.
  • Applesauce can be substituted for half of the butter, margarine, oil, and other fats in many recipes.

From Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents. Copyright 1995 by Sandra K. Nissenberg, Margaret L. Bogle, and Audrey C. Wright. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

To order this book visit www.wiley.com.

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