Understanding Different Types of Fat
We need to include some fat in our diet as it helps our body absorb vitamins to stay healthy. However, there are two types of fats, saturated and trans fats, which can raise our cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. It can also lead to weight gain, as foods that are high in fat are also high in calories.
‘I spoke to a customer a few days ago who had been told that his cholesterol was too high and that he needed to reduce the amount of saturated fat in his diet. He came into the pharmacy and said he was really confused about what this meant.’
Saturated fats are found in meat and dairy products. To reduce your intake of saturated fat, reduce the amount of fatty meats such as sausages, streaky bacon, butter, cheese, pastries, cakes, biscuits and chocolate in your diet and replace with fruit and vegetables.
Trans fats (referred to sometimes as hydrogenated fat) are artificial and tend to be found in processed foods such as cakes and biscuits, included by some manufactures to give the product a longer shelf life. Most people in the UK don’t eat a lot of trans fats as many food manufacturers have removed this from their products.
As part of a healthy diet, we should try to replace saturated fat and trans fats with unsaturated fats. There is good evidence that doing this helps lower cholesterol.
Unsaturated fats are found mainly in oils from plants. They are found in olive oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, avocados, some nuts such as almonds and brazil nuts, and in oily fish such as mackerel, kippers, herring, trout, salmon and sardines.
‘The customer asked me about the coloured labels he had seen on some foods and whether this was an easy way to judge if a food was better for him.’
Some food labels use red, amber and green colour coding which makes it easier for you to choose food that is lower in total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. You should try to choose foods that have more greens and ambers with fewer reds.
Otherwise, look for the nutrition label on food, which describes the quantity of total fat and saturated fat, per 100g or ml for liquids. Choose foods that are low in total fat and low in saturated fat. A good rule to stick to is around 5g per 100g of total fat.
Some tips for reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet:
- Try to avoid eating too many processed foods such as ready meals, processed meats and sweets
- Choose lean cuts of meat or trim any visible fat away
- When cooking, grill, poach or bake instead of frying
- Use skimmed milk and reduced fat spreads and cheeses
If you feel you need to lose weight to look and feel fitter and improve your health, drop by an Alphega Pharmacy to enrol in our Weight Loss Support Service. Our Service will provide you with the tools and motivation to shed those excess pounds.