The facts about fats

28 April 2021

A steak being cut into piecesEveryone needs an amount of fat for a healthy, balanced diet. Fat aids the body in absorbing vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. It is also a source of essential fatty acids, which the body can’t make itself.

The three types of fat

The main types of fat found in food are saturated fats, unsaturated fats and trans fats.

Saturated fats are usually found in meats, dairy and plant foods like palm oil and coconut oil. Too much-saturated fat can lead to health issues, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Bowel cancer

The government recommends that men should have no more than 30g of saturated fat and women have no more than 20g of saturated fat each day.

Saturated fats include:

  • Butter, lard and ghee
  • Milk, cream, yoghurt and cheese
  • Chocolate and cake
  • Sausages, burgers and bacon
  • Pastries and pies
  • Savoury snacks, like cheese crackers and popcorn

Unsaturated fats can be found in food like olive oil, avocados and almonds. These fats help to, reduce your fat intake, lower your risk of heart disease, and maintain a healthy cholesterol level.

Trans fats comes from the natural sources found in milk and meat. Trans fat is harmful to your health, but fortunately the levels of artificial trans fat in processed food in the UK is lowering. This is thanks to food manufacturers and retailers making health conscious decisions.

Eating less fat

Eating less fat can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid health risks in the future. Here are a few tips to help you cut down on fats:

  • Check your food labels to get the lowest percentage of fat and always aim for green or amber labels
  • Try to grill, bake, poach or steam food rather than frying or roasting in heavy oil
  • Take off any fat or skin on meat and poultry before cooking
  • Choose meats that have a lower fat content
  • Instead of fatty spreads, choose reduced-fat spreads such as olive or sunflower oil
  • Make health conscious food swaps, for instance, swapping a breakfast croissant to wholemeal toast or swapping sausages to low fat mince

Apps that help you shop smarter

Here are a few apps you can download on your phone to help you make better choices when shopping:

  • Change4Life Food Scanner, this app helps you to see how many sugar cubes, saturated fat and salt sachets are in the food you’ve scanned based on 100g a pack. It also helps you to look for snacks that are under 100 calories.
  • One You Easy Meals, here you’ll be able to find a delicious range of healthy, easy meal ideas. The app helps you to save recipes that you enjoyed and the ingredients needed to make them.
  • NHS Weight Loss Plan, this app helps you to develop healthier eating habits, becoming more active and to get you on track to losing weight with a 12-week diet and exercise plan.