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Vegetable Shortening, Non-Dairy Creamers : Cholesterol-Free Foods May Contain Fat

January 29, 1987

Homemakers who serve their families foods with labels that boast "no cholesterol" in the belief that those words also mean "no fat" may unwittingly be significantly adding to their family's fat intake, according to the California Dietetic Assn.

"Diet--including fat intake--plays a role in determining your personal risk for diseases such as cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis," said Cheryl Loggins, a registered dietitian with the California Dietetic Assn. Other health risk factors include heredity, smoking, weight, exercise and alcohol consumption.

For good long-term overall health, the dietary association recommends eating a variety of foods, including daily servings from the nutrient-based food groups: milk, meat, vegetables and fruits, breads and cereals.

Non-Dairy Creamers Cited

"Just because a food is cholesterol-free doesn't mean it's fat-free as well," she said. Vegetable shortening, for example, can lack cholesterol but is 100% fat. And non-dairy creamers, which may offer no cholesterol, are often rich in palm kernel or coconut oil, Loggins said.

"If you're concerned about fat in your diet, the simplest way to cut back without sacrificing good nutrition is to first look at high-fat extra foods you eat, such as margarine, butter, oil, sauces, gravies and salad dressings. The dietary association suggests limiting extra food intake to two servings a day.

"Buy leaner cuts of beef, fish and poultry and low-fat dairy foods such as low-fat milk, yogurt and cheeses," she said.

Loggins also suggests eating vegetables and fruits raw or lightly steamed and whole-grain breads and cereals to boost fiber intake.

"And try reading beyond the 'no cholesterol' label to see exactly what ingredients the product offers," she said. "Ingredients are listed in order of the percent contained in the product, from the most to the least." If fat or oil is among the first listed, you may want to try another product.

Confidence in Balanced Diet

By eating a balanced diet made up of lean meats and meat alternates, low-fat dairy foods, raw or lightly cooked vegetables and fruits and whole-grain breads and cereals, you can be confident that you're eating right for long-term good health, she said.

According to the dietary association, adult men should consume two daily servings of milk group foods, whereas women should consume three. Both men and women need two daily servings from the meat/meat alternates group and four daily servings from both the vegetables/fruits and breads/cereals groups.

"Moderating portions and limiting consumption of fats and oils will put you on the right track toward a healthy, active life style," Loggins said.

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