Types of fat
There are two main types of fat found in food - saturated and unsaturated. Saturated and unsaturated fat contain the same amount of calories. But as part of a healthy diet, you should try to cut down on food that is high in saturated fat, and instead eat foods that are rich in unsaturated fat.
Most people in Northern Ireland eat too much saturated fat – around 20 per cent more than the recommended maximum, which is:
- no more than 30g per day for the average man
- no more than 20g per day for the average woman
Eating a diet high in saturated fat can cause the level of cholesterol in your blood to build up over time. Raised cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease.
That’s why, as well as cutting down on the total amount of fat you eat, it’s important to cut down on saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- fatty cuts of meat
- meat products, including sausages and pies
- butter, ghee and lard
- cheese (especially hard cheese)
- cream, soured cream and ice cream
- some savoury snacks and chocolate
- biscuits, cakes and pastries
Having unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can help lower blood cholesterol.
Unsaturated fat is found in:
- oily fish, such as salmon, fresh tuna and mackerel
- nuts and seeds
- sunflower and olive oils
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.
Like saturated fats, trans fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. That’s why it’s recommended that trans fats should make up no more than two per cent of the energy (calories) you get from your diet. For adults, this is no more than about 5g a day.