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Low Fat Diet

For a Regular healthy diet, it is recommended that of the calories eaten, no more than 30% should come from fat.  However, certain diseases and medical conditions can make it difficult for the body to tolerate even that much fat, so a low-fat diet may help people with these conditions:

  • Gallbladder Disease
    Bile secreted from the gallbladder helps the body break down and absorb fats. When gallstones or gallbladder disease are present, a low-fat diet is often used to prevent complications.
  • Delayed Stomach Emptying (Gastro Paresis)
    This is a condition in which the stomach empties food into the intestine too slowly. It can cause bloating, nausea, and even vomiting. Normally, fat in foods delays stomach emptying, so fats make gastro paresis worse.
  • Diarrhea
    This can be caused by many conditions. When it occurs, it can be aggravated by eating fatty foods.
  • Mal-absorption of Nutrients
    Absorption is the transfer of nutrients into the bloodstream from the intestine. In some diseases of the pancreas and small intestine, patients have trouble absorbing nutrients from the diet, including fat. A low-fat diet may help control symptoms until the cause of mal-absorption can be diagnosed.
  • Fatty Liver
    For a number of reasons, fat may accumulate in the liver. Fat is not normally stored in the liver, and in some cases this can cause damage to the liver. A low-fat diet and weight reduction may be helpful.

In most cases, this diet provides all the nutrients required by the National Research Council's Recommendation Dietary Allowances (RDA). In some cases, however, the physician may prescribe supplements. Women of childbearing age and those people with mal-absorption may need to take certain vitamin and/or mineral supplements.

Special Considerations

Be careful how foods are prepared. Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, steam, or broil meats and fish instead of frying.  Toppings for potatoes and pastas should contain no fat above the three allowed daily servings.

Food Group

Foods Allowed

Foods Not Allowed


Skim milk, coffee, tea, soft drinks, fruit juice, fruit drinks, cocoa made with cocoa powder & skim milk

Whole milk, 2% milk, cream, beverages made with ice cream, chocolate milk


Whole grain, enriched white, rye, Italian, French, bagels, English muffins, corn & flour tortillas, low fat breads

All cooked & ready-to-eat cereal except those containing coconut or palm oil

Pasta, rice, saltine crackers, soda crackers, graham crackers, plain pretzels, unbuttered popcorn

Breads in which eggs, fat and/or butter are a major ingredient, croissants, pancakes, muffins, biscuits

Cereals containing coconut

Cheese crackers, high-fat crackers, flavored pretzels, popcorn with butter


Any fresh, canned, frozen, dried or juice



Any fresh, canned, frozen without added fat or sauce

Vegetables fried or prepared with butter, cheese or cream sauce


Low-fat varieties

Soup containing whole milk, cream, meat fat, poultry fat or skin

Fats <3 Tbsp per day

Unsaturated oils-canola, olive, safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, cotton seed, peanut

Margarine-made from unsaturated oil, light or diet margarine-especially soft or liquid forms

Salad dressing-made with unsaturated oil, low-fat or fat free

Seeds and nuts-peanut butter, other butters

Cocoa powder

Coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil

Butter, lard, shortening, bacon fat, hard margarine

Dressings made with egg yolk, cheese, sour cream, whole milk


Chocolate, cocoa butter

Note:  the information in this section is provided as a supplement to information discussed with your healthcare provider.  It is not intended to serve as a complete description of a particular topic or substitute for a clinic visit.

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