How to detect fat and steer away from it

Excess fat may have harmful effects on our health including an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Fat in the diet can have harmful effects. Some of these include increased cholesterol, which increases the chance of having a heart attack, the risk for Type 2 diabetes and a greater risk for obesity. The problem is that these foods surround us day in and day out. Some we may see and others we may not, especially in baked products or sauces.

Some food groups that may be higher in fat include:

  • Meats (marbling)
  • Dairy foods
  • Snack foods (potato chips)
  • Butter/margarine
  • Gravy/sauces
  • Mayonnaise
  • Baked goods
  • Oil heavy foods

Meals eaten away from home tend to be higher in fat compared to meals prepared at home. How do you monitor the amount of fat in foods that are consumed away from home? Most restaurants and fast food establishments currently list their menu with nutritional content on their website, or may provide an in-person menu with nutritional content at the establishment.

Higher fat foods are twice as calorically dense then other foods. Total fat intake for a day should be about 25 percent of your total caloric intake.

So how can we eat less fat?

  • Eat high fat food items less often
  • Eat smaller amounts of high-fat foods
  • Make substitutions that are lower in fat and calories to replace high fat foods

Eating high fat food items less often and in smaller amounts can assist us when dining away from home. When at home or at a convenience store consider healthier substitutions.

Examples of high fat food substitutions may include:

  • Vegetable chips for potato chips
  • Low fat cheese for full fat cheese
  • Skinless, boneless baked chicken breast for fried chicken with skin
  • Skim milk for whole milk
  • Apple for a muffin
  • Pretzels for fried chips
  • Ground turkey breast or ground sirloin for ground beef

Michigan State University Extension is offering the National Diabetes Prevention Program which provides education in reducing fat content. This program is a one year intervention that coaches participants to adapt lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of pre-diabetes. These programs are occurring across Michigan and current interventions can be found at Additional information can also be found at

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