Nutrition Corner: Helpful tips to decrease saturated fats

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret

This is the second column featuring the newly released 2015 New Dietary Guidelines. This week focuses on saturated fats. Last week I discussed what the new recommendations for added sugars were.

Most of us do not know how many calories we eat in a day unless we are writing it down and doing the calculations. The dietary guidelines focuses on eating a healthy dietary pattern, which can be a short cut to counting calories. Next week I will discuss what a healthy dietary pattern is.

Dietitians tell us that we should not eat more than 10 percent of our calories from saturated fats. Those are fats that come from animal sources, except for palm and coconut oils. Eat a diet high in saturated fats increases our risk for heart disease and also lead to obesity.

On average, the U.S. diet averages about 11 percent of calories from saturated fats, including our children’s diets. The major source of saturated fat (20 percent) comes from mixed dishes. That includes hamburgers, sandwiches, pizza, and tacos. Snacks and sweets account for 18 percent.

Because average U.S. adults and children eat more saturated fat than what’s recommended, families need to be more conscientious of the foods they eat which contain saturated fats. Follow these tips to get started.

• First, it is best to read food labels, including fast foods and take out to see if your portions are over the recommended 10 percent.

• Second, choose low fat cheese and milk. Both have the same amount of protein, just with less saturated. Start by choosing 1 percent or skim milk to drink. Schools are offering low fat milk, so younger students are drinking it at school.

• Third, if cooking ground meats, drain and rinse ground meats after cooking with warm water. It is best to use a recycled can to drain the oils and rinse water. Do not pour down the drain.

• Fourth, consume smaller amounts of saturated foods or consume them less often. If you order pizza out, eat less or order less often.

• Fifth, add vegetables to your meals when serving smaller portions of meats. It will help to fill the plate.

Reducing saturated fats in your meals and your family meals takes time. Choose one of the tips and start small. Once you have made it a habit, move on to the next.

To begin try this recipe which calls for draining and rinsing the ground beef. It also adds vegetables (tomatoes) to stop the hunger pains and calls for low fat cheese. Enjoy!

Beef and noodle casserole

1/2 pound egg noodles (uncooked)

nonstick cooking spray

1 pound ground beef

1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes (drained, about 15 ounces)

3/4 cup light sour cream

1 teaspoon dried basil (if you like)

3/4 cup low-fat cheddar (or mozzarella cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook noodles according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook ground beef on medium-high heat until the beef is browned. Drain and rinse with warm water.

Add tomatoes and sour cream. If using basil, add that too and stir well. Cover on low heat for about 10 minutes. Place noodles into casserole or baking dish; add beef and tomato mixture and mix well to coat.

Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

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