All About Fats
We all know too much fat is bad for us. But we don’t always know where it’s hiding away in what we eat!
It seems to be in so many things we enjoy, it can be difficult to know how to cut down on fat. There are two kinds of fat in the foods we eat and the medical people sometimes refer to them as the ‘good fats’ or ‘bad fats’ – these are also known as saturated and unsaturated fats.
But which is the good fat?
We all 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. This energy is measured in calories and almost everything we eat has a value in calories.
The good news is that you don’t have to stop eating these altogether. You can still enjoy the foods you love, but you can make some healthy changes and food swaps to make sure that you cut back.
Saturated fat – “the bad fat”
Saturated fat is the “bad” type of fat and the one that we really need to watch in our diets. It can build up in our bodies, eventually leading to high blood cholesterol and increasing the chances of developing heart disease.
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.
Unsaturated fat – “the good fat”
Having unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can help lower blood cholesterol. Try to cut down on foods high in saturated fat and replace them with foods that are rich in unsaturated fat.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to go easy on the fat. These include: simple food swaps, changing the way we prepare and cook food, and comparing food labels. You can find more tips for cutting down on saturated fats below.
Here are some ways to cut back on fat:
- Milk: use skimmed milk on your cereal. It has about half the saturated fat of semi-skimmed.
- Sausages: compare nutrition labels on the packs and choose the ones lower in saturated fat. You can spot these by looking for the amounts of fat “per serving” or “per 100g”. Remember, servings may vary so read the label carefully. You can also try grilling sausages instead of frying.
- 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.
- Pastries: swap pastries for thin pancakes with fruit, or crumpets with a thin layer of jam.
- Toast: have sliced banana on whole grain toast instead of white toast and butter.
Ways To Reduce Lunchtime Fat
- Potatoes: make your roast potatoes healthier by cutting them into larger pieces and using just a little sunflower or olive oil.
- Cheese: this can be high in saturated fat – check the label and choose cheese that’s lower in saturated fat. Grating it, rather than slicing it, will make it go further. If you choose a strong-tasting cheese, such as mature cheddar, you can use less of it because the flavour will go further.
Main Meal Fat Swaps
- Spaghetti Bolognese: use lean mince. It’s lower in saturated fat. If you aren’t using leaner mince, brown the mince first, then drain off the fat before adding other ingredients.
- Fish pie: use reduced-fat spread and 1% fat milk to make the sauce.
- Chilli: use leaner mince to reduce the saturated fat content. Or try it vegetarian-style for a change by adding beans, pulses and vegetables instead of mince.
- Chips: choose thick, straight-cut chips instead of french fries or crinkle-cut. At home, choose oven chips. If you’re making your own chips from scratch, cook them in the oven with a drizzle of sunflower oil, rather than deep-frying.
- Mashed potato: use reduced-fat spread instead of butter, and skimmed milk instead of whole or semi-skimmed milk.
- Meat: trim the visible fat off meat such as steak.
- Pasta: try a tomato sauce on your pasta. It’s lower in saturated fat than a creamy, cheesy or meat sauce.
- Pizza: choose a lower-fat topping, such as ham, vegetables, fish or prawns, instead of pepperoni, salami or extra cheese.
Fats have a place in every healthy, balanced diet–which is great because they add delicious flavor and texture to food as well as keep us feeling satisfied.
The key is to choose more of the healthy and less of the bad fats–though in moderation, those are OK too every once in a while!