Learn what the percents on dairy products really mean, and what the differences in taste and calories between low fat dairy and low low fat dairy are.
I'd like to cut down on the amount of fat in my diet — in dairy products, for example, which I use a lot of — but I'm not crazy about skim milk. It tastes even thinner than I want to look. How about 2 percent-fat milk instead? What possible difference could two paltry percentage points make?
Quite a bit when it comes to low fat vs. low low fat dairy products. The labels on milk cartons can be confusing, even though they're accurate. Whole milk is only about 3 percent butterfat. So 2 percent milk has had a third of its fat removed — not 98 percent, as many people believe. While a 30 percent reduction in fat is not to be sneezed at, 2 percent milk doesn't provide the spectacular savings most people assume it does. Approximate calories per cup: skim milk, 90; 1 percent, 110; 2 percent, 130; whole, 150.
There are other ways to reduce the dairy fat in your diet so you are eating low low fat dairy. Try replacing evaporated milk with evaporated skim milk; the substitution is undetectable in most recipes. Instead of ice cream, treat yourself to frozen yogurt, a delicious and increasingly popular product. Skim or low-fat yogurt can substitute for sour cream. That can take some getting used to: I'd suggest you start out by using yogurt in recipes that have other strong flavors.
— Carol Taylor, associate editor