Fats

This section gives you practical tips on how to cut down on all three, as well as explaining about the different types of fat.

We need some fat in our diets, as it helps our bodies absorb vitamins. It’s a source of energy and too much of it can lead to weight gain and other health problems. So eating less fat, and choosing lower-fat foods, can help to keep you healthy. Choosing the right kind of fat is important too- we need more of the good kind of fat and less of the bad.

It’s worth checking the packaging on your food to see the fat content.

  • High fat in food means more than 17.5 g per 100 g.
  • Low fat in food means less than 3 g per 100 g.
Saturated fat

Saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your chance of developing heart disease.

If you know which foods are high in saturated fat, then you can make choices each day to help reduce your intake of saturated fat.

Foods that are high in saturated fat

  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Meat products such as sausages and pies
  • Butter, ghee and lard
  • Cream, soured cream, crème fraîche and ice cream
  • Cheese, particularly hard cheese
  • Pastries
  • Cakes and biscuits
  • Coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil

How to eat less saturated fat in your diet

  • Eat less of the foods that are high in saturated fat
  • Go for unsaturated fats instead of saturated
  • Check labels to see saturated fat levels

Check the label for saturated fat

Look out for the figure for ‘saturates’ or ‘sat fat’ on the label, because this tells you how much saturated fat is in the food.

  • High is more than 5g sat fat per 100g
  • Low is 1.5g sat fat per 100g
Unsaturated fat

Eating unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can help lower your blood cholesterol, reducing your risk of strokes and heart disease. It also provides you with the essential fatty acids that the body needs.

Foods that are rich in unsaturated fat

  • oily fish
  • avocados
  • nuts and seeds
  • sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils, and spreads made from these
Trans fat

Trans fats

Like saturated fats, trans fats raise the type of cholesterol in the blood that increases your risk of coronary heart disease. Trans fats are found naturally at low levels in some foods – such as those from animals, including meat and dairy products. They can also be found in foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Most people in the UK don’t eat a lot of trans fats. On average, we eat about half the recommended maximum, and food manufacturers in the UK have recently lowered the levels of hydrogenated vegetable oil they use, which means that trans fat levels have been reduced in many foods.

We tend to eat a lot more saturated fats than trans fats, so it’s more important to focus on reducing the amount of saturated fat we eat.