WITH ALL THE CONCERN ABOUT FAT AND CHOLESTEROL, SOME FOODS HAVE GOTTEN A BAD RAP -- BUT THEY MAY NOT BE ENTIRELY BAD. IN FACT, SOME OF THEM RECEIVE HIGH NUTRITIONAL MARKS FOR A WIDE RANGE OF REASONS AND SHOULD NOT BE EXCLUDED FROM THE AMERICAN DIET.
EGGS. They are high in cholesterol -- 275 milligrams per yolk -- but egg whites are cholesterol- and fat-free and are a good source of protein. Even the the yolk has some vitamin A. And the egg is inexpensive and low in calories. The message: Limit eggs to about three per week.
MAYONNAISE is a fat -- pure and simple. But it's also one of the better fats. Its weak point: 10 milligrams of cholesterol per tablespoon from egg yolks. Its strong point: the fat is usually unsaturated. The message: have a little mayo on your low-fat turkey sandwich; just don't go overboard and eat a lot of salads laden with mayonnaise.
PEANUT BUTTER. A good source of protein and carbohydrates, peanut butter has a high fat content -- some 8 grams per tablespoon of the chunky variety. But the fat in peanut butter is "good" fat -- largely mono- and polyunsaturated. The message: Eat peanut butter in moderation.
PORK. Although high in saturated fats -- and relatively high in cholesterol -- pork (as well as beef and lamb) is also a good source of iron, folic acid, niacin and zinc. The message: trim all fat, cook meat medium to well-done and eat only small portions (three to four ounces or less.)
SHRIMP. Along with other shellfish, such as crab and clams, shrimp is high in cholesterol. But this seafood is also low in calories and high in omega-3 fatty acids -- the kind of fat that seems to offer protection against heart disease. The message: Eat shrimp and other sea foods in moderation; cook them with little or no fat and avoid buttery toppings.
THEY LOOK SO GOOD AND ARE OFTEN TOUTED AS GOOD FOR YOU. BUT A NUMBER OF FOODS HAVE THE ILLUSION OF BEING BETTER NUTRITIONALLY THAN THEY REALLY ARE WHEN IT COMES TO FAT AND CHOLESTEROL. AMONG THEM:
BAKED GOODS. Whether it's bran muffins or apple pie, crispy crackers or chocolate chip cookies, people often assume they are free of saturated fat, the "bad" kind. They're not. Even baked goods that boast "all vegetable shortening" or "no cholesterol" often contain the highly saturated coconut, palm and cottonseed oils. Seven Triscuit crackers, for example, have only about 140 calories, but 45 of those calories come from fat. Even carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting, derives half its calories from fat.
CHEESE. good source of calcium, but it's also loaded with fat -- generally saturated fat -- and cholesterol. Even lower-calorie Swiss derives about 75 percent of its calories from fat. Part-skim milk mozzarella has only nine fewer calories of fat per ounce than its whole-milk counterpart.
2 PERCENT MILK. Touted as a low-fat product, it actually contains just slightly less butterfat than whole milk. By drinking an 8-oz. glass of 2 percent milk, you consume some 5 grams of total fat -- most of it saturated -- compared with 8 in whole milk. The same amount of 1 percent milk has less than 3 grams of fat, and skim milk has just 0.4 grams.
NONDAIRY CREAMER. Often considered a good substitute for high-fat cream, in fact it is mostly fat. Some 59 percent of the calories in nondairy creamer come from fat, with almost all of them from the saturated fat contained in "bad" vegetable oils, such as coconut and palm.
POPCORN. When it's plain, unbuttered and cooked in high-grade vetetable oil, popcorn is great, But at movie theaters and now video stores, the light and fluffy kernels are usually popped in coconut or palm oil. Although one cup of popcorn -- without butter -- is a mere 55 calories and contains no cholesterol, popping it in coconut or palm oil spoils it.