We all know that French fries and burgers aren’t the healthiest choices, but we should treat ourselves to something salty and succulent every once in a while, right? Not necessarily. Researchers at the University of Calgary suggest that just one high-fat meal can radically increase your blood pressure, heart rate, and the resistance of blood vessels as you confront stressful tasks, like public speaking or a physical exercise. Yikes. We’re suddenly regretting indulging in that cupcake. “It’s been well documented that a high-fat diet leads to atherosclerosis and high blood pressure, and that exaggerated and prolonged cardiovascular responses to stress are associated with high blood pressure in the future. So when we learn that even a single, high-fat meal can make you more reactive to stress, it’s cause for concern because it suggests a new and damaging way that a high-fat diet affects cardiovascular function,” stated Dr. Tavis Campbell, a behavioral medicine specialist.
Of course, take this information with a grain of salt. Some people are perfectly healthy, even with the occasional steak and fries meal. However, if you have a history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, or if high cholesterol runs in your family, you should take on a low-fat diet to maintain your cardiovascular health.
Tips to Maintain a Low-Fat Diet Meal Plan
If you want to start making healthier choices or cutting out some of the fat in your diet, take a long, hard look at your current food choices. You can also find ways to cook that will decrease your fat intake.
Making the Right Food Choices:
- Check your labels and avoid food containing trans-fats, also known as hydrogenated oils.
- Decrease your consumption of fatty meats like sausages, hot dogs, bologna, salami, organ meats, goose, duck, and untrimmed red meats. Choose lean meats and poultry without skin.
- Select fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- If you do drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Resist ordering that second margarita or another round of beer and shoot for only one drink per day. A glass of wine at dinner is a great option for anyone taking on a low-fat diet meal plan.
- Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out and try to keep an eye on your portion sizes. As a general rule of thumb, only eat half of your entree and skip dessert.
Cooking methods to decrease your fat intake:
- Use vegetable broth when cooking instead of oil and butter
- Always trim your meats, then prepare your skinless and lean meats without added saturated and trans fat.
- When making sauces, always let your cooking liquid cool, then remove the hardened fat before making gravy or any other sauce. You can also use a fat separator to pour the “good liquid” from the stock, leaving the fat in the pan.
- Cook your eggs without the yolk, and bake with egg whites instead of whole eggs.
- When baking, limit your vegetable oil to a tablespoon or less. You can even substitute apple sauce in some recipes.
- Replace your butter, lard, or shortening, with vegetable oils, like canola, sunflower, soybean, or olive oil when cooking dishes. Butter can be replaced when sautéing vegetables, pan-frying fish, or cooking pancakes.
Stay motivated to keep up with your low-fat diet meal plan by keeping in mind that you’ll both look and feel better when making healthy choices. While we may miss our steak and fried eggs, indulging in high-fat dishes is just not worth it. While partaking in a low-fat diet, make sure that you’re getting enough “healthy fats” to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as other important nutritional compounds.
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