The American Heart Association recommends that your intake of saturated fat should be limited to 7 percent of your total daily calories. The AHA states that foods high in saturated fat should be limited, because they can raise blood cholesterol. The majority of saturated fats are found in animal products, but can be derived from plants as well.
Whole grain bread, cereal, rice, and pasta are low in saturated fat, and are also best for the heart. Make sure that the first ingredient listed on the package says “whole grain” or “whole wheat." White breads, which are listed as containing “enriched flour," are still low in saturated fat, although they are not as good for you in other ways as whole grains are. Eat up to 11 servings a day of a variety of cereal, loaf bread, pita bread, oatmeal, rice, crackers, pasta, bagels, and English muffins.
Dairy products made with whole milk should be limited, as they contain high levels of saturated fat. Look for dairy products that are made with skim milk, 1 percent milk fat, or are nonfat. Examples include buttermilk, skim or 1 percent milk, nonfat yogurt, frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, sherbet, nonfat sour cream, and cheese that is made with skim milk. Eat two to three servings of these a day. Pregnant and nursing women should eat up to four servings.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a healthy food choice, as they naturally do not contain saturated fat. The only way vegetables and fruits can contain saturated fat is as a result of the way in which they are prepared or packaged. Do not cook vegetables in butter and sauces. Steam them instead. Avoid canned fruits, as most contain syrups which contain saturated fat. Frozen fruits and vegetables are healthier than canned ones, but try to eat the fresh whole versions whenever possible. Eat a minimum of five fruits and vegetables per day.
Peas and Beans
If you are a vegetarian, you still need to be aware of certain beans and other alternatives you eat, as some contain saturated fat. Opt for dried peas and beans. These include black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, soy beans, and tofu. There is no recommended daily limit.
The optimum snack choice would be one from one of the aforementioned food groups, but there are a few packaged foods that you can have as a snack without saturated fat. Examples, according to the Mountain States Health Alliance, are angel food cake, animal crackers, cocoa, fig bars, graham crackers, Jell-O, juices, pretzels, and popcorn.
Spices and Condiments
Specific spices and condiments to use with foods contain little to no saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends using oils derived from canola, corn, olives, and soy beans. Also, use margarine as opposed to butter. Garlic, Italian seasoning, onion powder and Mrs. Dash do not contain saturated fat. When choosing condiments, use ketchup, mustard, or vinegar instead of mayonnaise.