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Lowering Health Risks Too : A Little Awareness Can Result in a Big Loss of Dietary Fat

March 14, 1985

Research shows that most Americans consume too much fat in their diets. If you're like most of us, changing that fact may seem to be a difficult task to accomplish. However, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, just a small amount of education and a little more awareness of what we're eating can easily bring that percentage of dietary fat in daily menus down to more reasonable levels.

According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University and senior science adviser to AICR, "The average American diet currently gets approximately 40% of its calories from dietary fat, but most research shows that if that amount were reduced to 30% or less, we should be lowering the health risks we face in a number of different ways."

Research has shown links between high-fat diets and a number of health problems, including many types of cancer, heart disease and kidney disease. "There is good evidence," Campbell noted, "that by lowering the amount of calories that are consumed as fat, one also significantly lowers the risk for certain types of cancer, especially breast, prostrate and colon cancers.

Recognition Factor

One of the difficulties in lowering fat intake for many people is that they simply are not aware of which foods are high in dietary fat. "While most of us realize that fatty meats, fried foods and some snacks, such as potato chips, are very high in fats," Campbell pointed out, "not many people realize that even lean cuts of meat contain more than 50% of their calories as fat."

He noted that moderating the consumption of such products while emphasizing the consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain cereal products should also help reduce total fat intake to more acceptable levels.

A recent publication by the American Institute for Cancer Research, "Menus and Recipes to Lower Cancer Risk," offers suggestions on how to lower the amount of fat in diets. These tips include trimming the fat from meat and removing the skin from poultry, using low-fat cheeses, choosing prepared foods that are labeled as low-fat, and using common-sense substitutions, such as low-fat yogurt or imitation sour cream, in recipes that call for high-fat foods.

Acceptable Substitutes

This booklet also notes that skim milk can be substituted for whole milk, and in many recipes nonfat powdered milk is a most acceptable substitute. The recipes point out that you can even substitute for a food as rich in fats as whipping cream by using canned evaporated skim milk. Evaporated skim milk not only is a close taste substitute, but will whip the same as cream if done in a chilled bowl using chilled beaters.

According to the cancer institute's publications, it's fairly simple to make small changes that can easily lower the amount of fat intake without necessarily meaning drastic dietary changes.

A copy of the booklet, "Menus and Recipes to Lower Cancer Risk," may be obtained by sending a request with a stamped, self-addressed legal-size envelope to the American Institute for Cancer Research, Dept. FB, Washington, D.C. 20069.

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