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The Next Culprit Culprit #2: Anything with Lots of Fat and Oil continued...

Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is basically made up of three ingredients: vegetable oil, egg yolks, and vinegar (it's not the vinegar that I'm worried about). Mayonnaise makes this list because it is loaded with calories and fat grams. Many people slather around 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based sauces on their sandwich. This adds up to 198 calories and 22 grams of fat. See what I mean?

Chips and microwave popcorn. Although the potato and corn kernels that go into making these popular snack items have some nutritional value, once you coat them in partially hydrogenated oil, they top the charts in calories and fat grams. A 2-ounce bag of potato chips contains around 303 calories and 20 grams of fat. A bag of microwave popping corn (not the light kind) totals 435 calories and 25 grams of fat.

Crackers. Crackers may seem like they would be good snack choices. But if you look on the ingredient labels, they're usually just white flour with partially hydrogenated fat -- neither of which does much for the nutritional value of your diet. Calories and fat can add up quickly here, too. A 2-ounce serving of Ritz Bits, for example, totals 302 calories and 17 grams of fat, while the same size serving of cheese crackers comes to around 285 calories and 14 grams of fat.

Packaged frozen snacks. Walk down the frozen-food aisle and you'll find scores of packaged savory snacks just waiting to be popped into the microwave: hot pockets, pizza rolls, egg rolls, etc. Trouble is, these are full of partially hydrogenated fats and oils. Just one pepperoni pizza pocket totals around 510 calories and 26 grams of fat.

The Final Word

So what's the final word on these empty-calorie foods Americans to love so much?

When it comes to empty-calorie foods, it's all about moderation. A little is fine; a lot can get you into calorie overload. You can have your cake and eat it, too -- as long as the piece of cake is petite, and choosing empty-calorie foods instead of nutrient-rich ones is the exception, rather than the rule.

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