Fat in food

  We all know too much fat is bad for us. But we don’t always know where it’s lurking. It seems to be in so many things we like, it can be difficult to know how to cut down.

There are two kinds of fat in the foods we eat – saturated and unsaturated fat. We need a bit of fat in our diets to help our bodies absorb vitamins and stay healthy. But we shouldn’t have too much saturated fat – this type of fat can build up in the body, leading to serious problems like a heart attack or stroke. Eating too much fat can also make us more likely to put on weight, because foods that are high in fat are also high in energy (measured in calories).

Saturated fat is in things like butter, cheese, cakes, biscuits, pastries and fatty meats like streaky bacon and sausages. To help you spot it – this kind of fat tends to be solid at room temperature. The good news is that you don’t have to stop eating these altogether, just eat them less often and you can make some healthy changes and food swaps to make sure that you cut back for example:

  • Milk - use 1% fat milk on your cereal. It has about half the saturated fat of semi-skimmed
  • Meat – choose lean mean and cut any excess fat off before serving
  • Poultry – remove the skin before serving
  • Bacon -choose back bacon instead of streaky bacon and cook by grilling instead of frying.
  • Eggs - prepare eggs without oil or butter. Poach, boil or dry-fry your eggs.
  • Swap pastries for thin pancakes with fruit, or crumpets with a thin layer of jam.
  • Toast -  have a sliced banana on whole grain toast instead of white toast and butter.
  • Sandwiches – swap butter or margarine for low fat mayonnaise, mustard or pickle.
  • Cheese - can be high in saturated fat – check the label and choose cheese that’s lower in saturated fat.
  • Dressings – Use low fat options

5% FAT RULE - calorie wise you should be careful with all fat consumption, but nutrition wise not all fats are equal. Your body needs nutrients from good fats - EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) - which you can get from small portions of nuts (or nut butters) or seeds (sprinkle a few on cereal or salads), olive or vegetable oil, avocados, olives, pure sunflower spread and hummus.

10 TIPS FOR LOW-FAT COOKING  fat is highly calorific therefore the less you use the better. However veggies can add 1tsp olive or vegetable oil per person when frying because of its nutritional value.

Oily Fish  - some species of fish are rich in EFAs due to the nutritious algae sea plants they eat. Non-fish sources of EFAs can be found in nuts and seeds, olive and other vegetable oils, avocados, olives, pure sunflower spread or in algae supplements and EFA oil blends, both available from health food stores

For more information on fats visit the Government's Change 4 Life website.