Today's variety of fat-free or low-fat foods includes cheese, salad dressings, ice cream and cake. But when the fat is removed, what happens to the taste?

"For years, removing the fat from food meant sacrificing taste and flavor," says dietitian Laura Conway, a contributor to the Environmental Nutrition newsletter. "Now, standard ingredients in food can be manipulated to fool the taste buds into thinking that you're eating a full-fat food."Fat-free products offer an easy way to cut dietary fat intake without feeling deprived, Conway says. However, eating fat-free foods doesn't guarantee a better diet. In addition to choosing reduced-fat and fat-free foods, consumers must also select lower-fat versions of all foods, she says.

To help reduce the total fat in your diet, Environmental Nutrition offers these tips:

- Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products.

- Switch from whole milk to low-fat (2 percent or 1 percent) milk or skim milk.

- Choose "select" grades of meat instead of "prime." Trim meat of all visible fat before cooking.

- Use non-stick vegetable sprays in place of oils when baking and frying foods.

- Eat angel food cake, frozen fruit bars or fat-free frozen desserts instead of rich creamy desserts.