Low Fat Diet

To live a healthy life, it is recommended that no more than 30% of your food comes from fat.1 However, in certain medical conditions and diseases, it can be difficult to digest even small amounts of fat. A low-fat diet is not only good for these conditions, but it is also beneficial for weight loss and for reducing cholesterol in people with cardiac issues.2

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Conditions Requiring a Low-fat Diet

Certain medical conditions that require a low-fat diet are3:

Gallbladder disease

Bile is secreted from the gall bladder, which helps break down fat. A low-fat diet is recommended in the presence of gall stones or any other gall bladder disease.

Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis, or slow emptying of the stomach, is a condition that causes bloating, nausea, and vomiting and requires a low-fat diet for easy digestion.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is aggravated by eating fatty foods.

Malabsorption of nutrients

Patients suffering from diseases of the pancreas and small intestine have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients, especially fats.

Type 2 diabetes

A low-fat diet is known to contribute to decreasing blood sugar levels.4

Heart disease

Heart disease and related conditions such as myocardial infarction, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol require eliminating excess fat from the diet.

Special Considerations to Avoiding Excess Fat

  • Eliminate all visible fat from food, i.e., trim beef, pork, and chicken.
  • Bake and steam meat and fish instead of deep-frying.
  • Toppings such as sauces for pasta, rice, and potatoes should be fat-free.

Recommended Foods for a Low-fat Diet

Milk and Milk Products

  • Skim milk
  • Skim buttermilk
  • Cream
  • Yogurt made with skim milk
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Evaporated skim milk

Bread and Grains

  • Whole grain
  • Plain pasta
  • Barley
  • Rice cakes
  • Cold cereal
  • Low-fat snack crackers

Vegetables

  • All vegetables should be steamed, boiled, or baked without added fat.

Fruits

  • All fruits are acceptable, except avocado

Meat or Meat Substitutes

  • Poultry without skin
  • Boiled ham
  • Eggs
  • Luncheon meat
  • Bacon

Beverages

  • Regular coffee or tea
  • Water
  • Fruit juices

Fats and Oil

  • Whole walnuts
  • Whole pistachios
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Coconut oil

Sweets and Desserts

  • Hard candy
  • Jelly beans
  • Jams
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Ginger snaps
  • Fruit ice
  • Gelatin

Foods to Avoid

Certain food groups that should be avoided include:

  • Whole milk
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Cheese spreads
  • Biscuits
  • Sweet rolls
  • Pancakes
  • French toast
  • Muffins
  • Potato chips
  • Fried rice, chow mien
  • Butter
  • Doughnuts
  • Ground beef
  • Ice cream
  • Pastries
  • Cream puffs
  • Cakes
  • Pastries
  • Chocolates
  • Pies
Sample Menu
Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • grapefruit 1/2
  • dry cereal 3/4 cup
  • banana 1/2 medium
  • whole wheat toast 2 slices
  • margarine 2 tsp
  • jelly or jam 1 Tb
  • skim milk 1 cup
  • coffee 3/4 cup
  • fat free vegetable soup 1 cup
  • lean hamburger 2 oz
  • mozzarella cheese made with skim milk 1 oz
  • hamburger bun
  • sliced tomato
  • lettuce
  • fresh fruit salad 1/2 cup
  • angel food cake 1 slice
  • skim milk 1 cup
  • coffee 3/4 cup
  • tomato juice 1/2 cup
  • broiled chicken breast without skin 3 oz
  • herbed rice 1/2 cup
  • broccoli 1/2 cup with low fat cheese sauce 1/4 cup
  • hard dinner roll
  • margarine 1 tsp
  • carrot/raisin salad 1/2 cup
  • low fat frozen strawberry yogurt 1/2 cup
  • skim milk 1 cup
This sample diet provides the following:
Calories 2,060 Fat 50 gm
Protein 110 g Sodium 4,000 mg
Carbohydrates 299 g Potassium 4,245 mg

References:

  1. Bhandari P, Sapra A. Low Fat Diet. BMJ. 2022;322(7289):804. doi:10.1136/bmj.322.7289.804/a
  2. Ebbeling CB, Ebbeling IS, Lichtenstein AH, et al. Dietary Fat: Friend or Foe? Clin Chem. 2018;64(1):34. doi:10.1373/CLINCHEM.2017.274084
  3. Seid H, Rosenbaum M. Low Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: What We Don’t Know and Why We Should Know It. Nutrients. 2019;11(11). doi:10.3390/NU11112749
  4. Watson N, Dyer K, Buckley J, et al. Effects of Low-Fat Diets Differing in Protein and Carbohydrate Content on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors during Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance in Obese Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients. 2016;8(5). doi:10.3390/NU8050289

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