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How to Avoid Unhealthful Fats

April 20, 1998|USHA LEE MCFARLING

Follow these rules, and you'll be on your way to reducing the unhealthful fats in your diet.

* Avoid hard margarine and butter. Butter contains saturated fat, and most margarines contain trans fats. If you simply must have butter or margarine, use only small amounts or choose softer forms of margarine (tub or liquid squeeze) instead of stick margarine or butter, since they have the least amount of trans fats. Your best bets: Search out the new trans-fat-free margarines, or stick to jams, low-fat cream cheese or olive oil instead.

* Avoid cream and nondairy creamer. Opt for less-fatty forms of milk to lighten. Move gradually from cream to whole milk to low fat to skim.

* Use liquid vegetable oil whenever possible. Olive oil is high in healthful monounsaturated fat and is tasty straight, so try that at the table. When cooking, use canola or corn oil for dishes that would be overpowered by olive oil's strong taste.

* Avoid fast-food French fries. French fries are generally fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and thus contain hefty amounts of trans fats. Even fries labeled as "cooked in healthful oil" such as canola are sometimes pre-fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil during processing, says Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University.

* Read labels. Food labels don't list "trans fat." But if you see the words "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" with a vegetable oil, you'll know you're dealing with trans fats. The Food and Drug Administration is considering a citizens' petition requiring food labels to disclose trans-fat content. If consumers demand trans-fat-free foods, food manufacturers will probably respond with more healthful products.

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