12 January 2006

Low-calorie, lower-fat alternative foods

These low-calorie alternatives provide new ideas for old favourites. When making a food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals.


These low-calorie alternatives provide new ideas for old favourites. When making a food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals. Some foods provide most of their calories from sugar and fat but give you few, if any, vitamins and minerals.

This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We stress reading labels to find out just how many calories are in the specific products you decide to buy.

Higher-fat foods

Lower-fat foods

Dairy products

Evaporated whole milk Evaporated fat-free (skim) or reduced-fat (2%) milk
Whole milk Low-fat (1%), reduced-fat (2%), or fat-free (skim) milk
Ice cream Sorbet, sherbet, low fat or fat-free frozen yoghurt, or ice
Whipping cream Imitation whipped cream (made with fat-free [skim] milk)
Sour cream Plain low-fat yoghurt
Cream cheese "Light" cream cheese or fat-free cream cheese
Cheese (cheddar, Swiss, gouda) Reduced-calorie cheese, low-calorie processed cheeses, fat-free cheese
Regular (4%) cottage cheese Low-fat (1%) or reduced-fat (2%) cottage cheese
Whole milk mozzarella cheese Part-skim milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese
Whole milk ricotta cheese Part-skim milk ricotta cheese
Coffee cream or non-dairy creamer (liquid, powder) Low-fat (1%) or reduced-fat (2%) milk or non-fat dry milk powder

Cereals, grains and pastas

Ramen noodles Rice or noodles (spaghetti, macaroni etc.)
Pasta with white sauce (alfredo) Pasta with red sauce (marinara)
Pasta with cheese sauce Pasta with vegetables (primavera)
Granola Bran flakes, crispy rice etc.
Cooked oatmeal
Reduced-fat granola

Meat, fish and poultry

Coldcuts or lunch meats (bologna, salami, liverwurst etc.) Low-fat coldcuts (95 to 97% fat-free lunch meats, low-fat pressed meats)
Hot dogs (regular) Lower-fat hot dogs
Bacon or sausage Lean ham
Regular ground beef Extra lean ground beef (read labels)
Poultry with skin Poultry without skin (white meat)
Oil-packed tuna Water-packed tuna (rinse to reduce sodium content)
Beef (chuck, rib, brisket) Beef (round, loin) (trimmed of external fat)
Pork (spareribs, untrimmed loin) Pork tenderloin or trimmed lean smoked ham
Frozen breaded fish or fried fish (homemade or commercial) Fish or shellfish, unbreaded (fresh, frozen, canned in water)
Whole eggs Egg whites or egg substitutes
Frozen ready-made meals (containing more than 13 grams of fat per serving) Frozen ready-made meals (containing less than 13 grams of fat per serving and lower in sodium)

Baked goods

Croissants Hard French rolls or soft brown rolls
Doughnuts, sweet rolls, muffins, scones or pastries English muffins, bagels, reduced-fat or fat-free muffins or scones
Party crackers Low-fat crackers (choose lower in sodium)
Cake (chocolate, yellow) Cake (angel food, white, gingerbread)
Cookies Reduced-fat or fat-free cookies (ginger snaps) (compare calorie level)

Snacks and sweets

Nuts Popcorn (air-popped or light microwave), fruits, vegetables
Ice cream, cones or bars Frozen yoghurt or frozen fruit
Custards or puddings (made with whole milk) Puddings (made with skim milk)

Fats, oils and salad dressings

Regular margarine or butter Light spread margarines, diet margarine
Regular mayonnaise Light or diet mayonnaise or mustard
Regular salad dressings Reduced-calorie or fat-free salad dressings, lemon juice, or plain, herb flavoured, or wine vinegar
Butter or margarine on toast or bread Jam, or honey on bread or toast
Oils, shortening or lard Non-stick cooking spray for stir-frying or sautéing
As a substitute for oil or butter, use applesauce or prune puree in baked goods
Canned cream soups Canned broth-based soups
Canned beans and viennas Canned baked beans in tomato sauce
Gravy (homemade with fat and/or milk) Gravy mixes made with water or homemade with the fat skimmed off and fat-free milk
Fudge sauce Chocolate syrup
Avocado on sandwiches Cucumber slices or lettuce leaves
Guacamole dip Salsa

Source: National Institutes of Health, USA


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Mental health & your work »

How open are you about mental illness in the workplace?

Mental health in the workplace – what you can do to help

If you know that one of your colleagues suffers from a mental illness, would you be able to help them at work? Maligay Govender offers some helpful mental health "first aid" tips.

Sleep & You »

Sleep vs. no sleep Diagnosis of insomnia

6 things that are sabotaging your sleep

Kick these shut-eye killers to the kerb and make your whole life better – overnight.