Facts about fats

Fats provide the body with energy and vitamins (A&D) and essential fats but too much fat in our diet can be unhealthy. Fats contain 9 calories per gram.By reducing unhealthy saturated fats and having smaller amounts of healthier fats like unsaturated fats you will be achieving a better balance for a healthier heart.

Too much fat in your diet will increase your chances of becoming overweight and can lead to further health problems e.g type 2 diabetes, cancer and joint problems.

A way to reduce your total fat intake is to check food labelling,

The Guideline daily amount for average adult are :

Normal weight women with average activity levels : 2000calories and 70g fat

Normal weight man with average activity levels: 2500 calories and 95g fat

It is these figures that are used for guidelines in front of packs

The back or side of food packs tell us the amount of fat in 100g of food(%) and you can decide to choose whether a food contains a lot or little fat in 100g:

Fat :

high 20g/100g 20%

low less than<3g/100g <3%

saturated fat :

high 5g/100g 5%

low less than<1.5g/100g <1.5%

The multiple traffic light system

Red means: 20%

Amber means: 3-20%

Green means: <3%

e.g chicken and bacon pie =686 calories 40g fat

19g fat which makes a large contribution where as a pear contains 42 calories 0g fat

Types of fats

saturated fats: These are harder fats like lard ,butter,ghee,fats on meat, meat products, pastries, cakes, biscuits, full fat dairy food and take away meals. No more than a third of our total fat should come from saturated fats. This is 30g/day for men and 20g/day for women.

Trans fats (hydrogenated vegetable oils): These are processed vegetable oils to make them hard. They are found in processed food e.g cakes, biscuits, pastries. They may appear on the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Unsaturated fats

These fats are found in seed/grains, nuts, vegetables and fruit.They can be polyunsaturated (found in sunflower, Soya ,corn and sesame oils or monounsaturated (found in olive and rapeseed oil).

They should provide around third of your fat intake. Monounsaturated fats promote the healthier type of cholesterol in your blood.

Omega 3 fats

These are essential fatty acids found in oily fish e.g pilchards,mackerel,salmon and sardines. They are also found in smaller amounts in rapeseed , soya flax, linseed oils and walnuts. These fats help prevent blood from clotting,regulate the heart rhythm and improve survival after a heart attack.There is growing evidence that they have many other benefits.

This information can be found on: www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts

A recent UK study analysed 904 recipes developed by celebrity chefs and discovered over three quarters (87%) contained high levels of undesirable nutrients, particularly saturated fats. Eating too much of this type of fat contributes to heart disease and obesity.

Prompted by the new findings, along with evidence indicating that the UK currently consume 20% more saturated fat than is recommended, F I S (Fat information service) experts have developed 10 easy to follow rules that can be applied to any recipe to help make it healthier by reducing the saturated fat content:

  1. If the recipe includes cream, replace with lower fat fromage frais, natural yoghurt or crème fraiche

  2. Swap whole milk for semi skimmed or skimmed milk

  3. If you are using cheese to flavour a dish or a sauce, opt for a strong tasting cheese and use a smaller amount of it. Alternatively, try a reduced fat version

  4. Swap butter for vegetable oil based spreads or margarine

  5. Use unsaturated oils such as olive, sunflower or rapeseed oils instead of butter, lard or ghee

  6. Wherever possible grill meat and poultry instead of frying it and cut off any visible fat or skin before cooking

  7. Use a non stick pan to avoid adding extra fat when cooking

  8. Add less meat to stews and casseroles and replace with pulses and extra vegetables instead

  9. When making a pie opt for just one crust – either a lid or a base – as pastry is high in saturated fat - (also try to make pastry with vegetable oil based spreads or margarine instead of butter) or try a potatoe pie

  10. Grill, bake, poach or steam rather than frying and roasting.


For specialised Diet and Nutrition advice seek the advice of a Professional Dietitian and Nutritionist Tabby kabeer

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