The Dish: Dig In for Better Dining Out

Updated:Jan 11,2014

Fats - The Dish with Dr. Eckel Column (640 px)Great news! A recent survey shows that consumer awareness of the “bad” fats – trans and saturated fats – is at an all-time high. In the last year alone, Americans’ awareness of trans fat has risen from 84 percent to 92 percent, making it almost as well-known as saturated fat at 93 percent. But our work isn’t over.

We still have to help you identify where these “bad” fats can be found, and how you can replace them with the “better” fats, no matter where you eat. We now live at a time when more healthy choices are available in restaurants than ever before. It’s possible to apply what we know and still have fun eating out.

You may think it’s hard to find a heart-healthy meal in most restaurants, but with a little bit of know-how, you can cut down on saturated and trans fats and still enjoy a delicious meal.  A few tips that I always keep in mind include:

  • Look for meals that are steamed, broiled, baked, grilled or roasted – these typically have fewer calories and less fat than meals that are fried, creamed or sautéed.
  • Check the menu for items marked as “healthy.” Order them at least some of the time. Learn about the Heart Check mark Meal Certification Program.
  • Ask your server what type of oil foods are prepared with. Liquid vegetable oils such as canola, olive, soybean and sunflower oils are better choices.
  • Also, try sharing large portions with friends and asking about substituting healthier side options.   If a meal is served with French fries, ask for a plain baked potato or side salad instead.

You can find more eating out tips and smart substitutions on in the Nutriton CenterFats - Restaurant Server (spot)

Restaurants are starting to do their part, too.  With all the buzz about the “bad” fats lately, we’re excited to see so many places taking an active interest in offering their customers more heart-healthy choices.  The American Heart Association sees this as a great opportunity, so we’ve launched “Face the Fats Restaurant Resources,” a first-ever online guide to help restaurant operators and food industry professionals nationwide replace trans fat with healthier oils.  Our goal is to help restaurants keep serving great-tasting food without defaulting to a saturated fat replacement or losing the flavor and texture that customers like you want. 

We encourage you to check out these resources, and keep these tips in mind when eating out yourself. With just a little work, you can enjoy delicious and heart-healthy foods no matter what’s on the menu. 

Learn more:

Fats and Oils

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