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Diabetes and Dietary Fat

Diabetes makes heart disease more likely. So eating foods lower in unhealthy fats, especially saturated and trans fats, is particularly important to keep that risk as low as possible. It can also help you lose weight, especially when you exercise, too.

Here are some general guidelines for selecting and preparing low-fat foods if you have diabetes:

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  • Skip fatty cuts of meat. Favor poultry, fish, and lean red meats. When preparing these foods, don't fry them. Instead, you can bake, broil, grill, roast, or boil. Or, have plant-based sources of protein, like beans or lentils.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products such as low-fat cheese, skim milk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat frozen yogurt, evaporated skim milk, and buttermilk. Remember to include dairy products in your daily carbohydrate count.
  • Use low-fat vegetable cooking spray when preparing foods.
  • Choose lower-fat margarines, gravies, and salad dressings, and remember to watch the carbohydrate count of condiments and dressings.
  • All fruits and vegetables are good low-fat choices. Remember to include fruit and starchy vegetables in your daily carbohydrate count.
  • Healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated and mono fats, may help protect your heart from disease. For example, choose almonds, pecans and cashews and peanut butter, cold-water fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel, salmon and tuna, and olive, safflower and corn oils.

Your registered dietitian can provide more information on how to prepare and select low-fat foods.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 11, 2014

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