Fat can creep into the diet in the least expected places. But making some informed choices can mean a big difference.
For instance, switching from whole milk to skim milk saves about 8 grams of fat -- some 72 calories -- for each 8-ounce glass of milk. For people who drink three glasses of milk a day, that can mean a daily fat savings of 24 grams, or 216 calories. Other skim milk products, such as yogurt and cheese, provide similar fat savings.
Eating poultry without the skin also can pare down the amount of fat. Four ounces of roasted white chicken meat with the skin contains almost as much fat as flour-coated, homemade fried chicken. In each case, says nutritionist Bonnie Liebman of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 36 percent of the calories come from fat. But eat the roasted chicken without the skin, and fat calories drop to 19 percent, or a mere 36 calories.
By comparison, four ounces of roasted chicken thigh meat, without the skin, contains 47 percent of calories as fat -- some 108 calories just from fat. Other items for your fat hit list:
* Cheese. An average of 70 percent of calories come from fat. Exceptions are processed, low-fat cheese substitutes. Even mozzarella made from part skim milk has 5 grams of fat.
* Meat. The leanest meats still get about a third of their calories from fat. "Often you can't see it," says Liebman. But even if you do trim "every visible piece of fat off of there, you'll still be getting a fairly big dose of saturated fat."
* Granola. About one quarter of its calories come from fat, usually from coconut or other saturated vegetable fat.
* Croissants. They are laden with butter and lard.
* Non-dairy creamer. They're high in saturated vegetable fat, usually coconut or palm oil.
* Popcorn, sold commercially, is popped in heavily saturated vegetable oils. But if you pop it at home -- in corn, olive or other low-saturated fat oils -- you won't go wrong. Unless you add butter.