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What foods have fat and how much of them can you eat?

This past weekend a girl friend wanted to stop into a fast food outlet to get a muffin. “At least I know it’s a healthy choice” she said. Normally in social circles I don’t annoy people with nutrition facts but when she went on to say she gets them all the time, I couldn’t help myself.  I broke the news that the muffin was right up there fat and calorie-wise with a baked apple pie, donut, even a small order of fries.  She was shocked, decided she didn’t really need a 400 plus calorie muffin and satisfied herself with a coffee instead. This reinforced for me something as a dietitian I’ve noticed again and again. People are surprised to find out that most of the fat, a full ¼ of the fat in the Canadian diet, comes from sweetened baked goods and fast foods. Hardly healthy choices! On the other hand, I find people are concerned with the fat in whole, nutrient-rich foods, with surprisingly moderate amounts of fat. Consider these equally excellent, protein, vitamin and mineral-rich examples: One egg: 5 g fat 75 g (think deck of cards), trimmed, cooked, sirloin steak: 4 g fat 250 mL (1 cup) 2% milk: 5 g fat 60 mL (¼ cup) hummus: 5 g fat Let’s put that into perspective. Woman can have about 65 grams of fat a day and men, 90 grams. Each of these foods offers less than 10% of your “fat budget” for the day. Look at it another way. Eating any three of these foods will net you fat-wise, about the same as one muffin! Unlike the muffin however, because these foods are protein-rich you’ll feel satisfied for much longer. Bottom line, if we are really concerned about making a dent in our fat intake it’s the sweetened baked goods and fast foods we should be looking to eat in smaller amounts and less often. So go ahead and enjoy an egg for breakfast and when you really want a muffin, share the love and split it with a friend.

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