It’s a simple fact that too much fat in your diet poses two major problems. First, fat is a very concentrated source of energy, so that small amounts are packed with a lot of calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity. Second, a high-fat diet can lead to the development of heart disease. That’s why most nutrition authorities promote a reduction of fat in the American diet—from the current 40-45 percent to fewer than 30 percent of total calories from fat.

Studies have shown that a healthy diet can have a significant effect on your ability to fight off heart disease. It’s important to also exercise and minimize stress, but making heart-healthy food choices and reducing fat in your diet is disease good place to start. If you haven’t been eating a healthy and nutritious diet that helps you keep your blood cholesterol low and maintain a normal blood pressure, you can start today with these simple, but effective tips

Making Good Food Shopping Choices

Avoiding foods with unhealthy fats may help lower your blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. When it comes to your food shopping and eating choices, here are some key things to avoid:

  • Steer away from foods high in saturated and trans fats like fried foods, fatty meats, stick margarine, snacks and items with hydrogenated oil. Saturated and trans fats are two big dietary culprits that may lead to heart disease.
  • Watch out for hidden fat. Sweet foods like bran muffins, donuts, cookies, cakes and pies have more fat than sugar calories. Similarly, crackers, chips and other snack foods are high in fat. If in doubt, read the food labels.
  • Cut down on sauces and toppings. Gravy, salad dressing, sour cream, butter, margarine, mayonnaise and whipped cream are almost all fat. Even small amounts of these foods can boost the fat content of your diet.
  • Buy low-fat or fat free dairy products. Skim milk has the same nutritional value as whole milk, but no fat and half the calories. Cottage cheese, yogurt and cheese made from skim milk have this same advantage.

Good Cooking Choices

Another easy way to avoid fat in your diet is using heart-healthy cooking techniques. How you prepare you meals and cook your food can help you reduce fat in your diet. Here are some quick tips:

  • Use low-fat cooking techniques like broiling, grilling and stir-frying, rather than deep-frying or pan-frying in oil.
  • If you eat out, ask how the food is prepared before ordering and opt for broiled, grilled or stir-fried items.
  • Select lean cuts of meat, like loin or round. The grade of meat is based on the fat content. Choice or prime grade are the highest in fat; the less-expensive select grade is the lowest in fat.
  • Remove the visible fat from meat before cooking and drain the grease After cooking ground meat or hamburgers.
  • Remove the skin from poultry before eating.