There are two main types of fat found in food – saturated and unsaturated. Eating a diet that is high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, over time.
This increases your chance of developing heart disease. So it’s a good idea to reduce your intake of saturated fat. You can do this by:
- eating less of foods that are high in saturated fat
- choosing options that are lower in saturated fat
- going for unsaturated fats instead of saturated
Foods that are high in saturated fatFoods that are high in saturated fat include:
- fatty cuts of meat and meat products such as sausages and pies
- butter, ghee and lard
- cream, soured cream, crème fraîche and ice cream
- cheese, particularly hard cheese
- cakes and biscuits
- some savoury snacks
- some sweet snacks and chocolate
- coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil
How much is too much saturated fat?Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat – about 20% more than the recommended maximum amount.
- The average man should have no more than 30g saturated fat a day.
- The average woman should have no more than 20g saturated fat a day.
Of course most people don’t have time to tot up the amount of saturated fat they are eating every day. But it’s a good idea to take a look at how much saturated fat is in different foods. Then you’ll see that eating certain foods, especially in large quantities, can make it easy to eat more than the recommended maximum amount of saturated fat.
If you know which foods are high in saturated fat – and which are lower – then you can make choices each day to help reduce your intake of saturated fat.
Check the label for saturated fatLook out for the figure for ‘saturates’ or ‘sat fat’ on the label because this tells you how much saturated fat is in the food.
High is more than 5g sat fat per 100g
Low is 1.5g sat fat per 100g
If the amount of sat fat per 100g is in between these figures, then that is a medium level.
Some foods have ‘traffic light’ labels on the front of the pack. These show you if a food is high, medium or low in fat, sat fat, sugars and salt.
Red = High
Amber = Medium
Green = Low
Try to choose foods that are low in sat fat as often as you can, or go for medium. If foods are high in sat fat, try not to have them too often, or eat them in smaller amounts.
When you’re shopping, compare similar foods – there can be a big difference in how much sat fat they contain. And choose the option that is lower in sat fat.
Take the 21-day Sat Fat ChallengeIf you would like to cut down on saturated fat, take the 21-day Sat Fat Challenge. It involves making a small change to what you eat every day for 21 days. So, to get started today, just pick your first challenge from the list below.
If you have an iPhone, an iPod Touch, or a web-enabled phone you can also take the challenge using our phone app (find out more at the link below).
Is spaghetti Bolognese the most popular meal in your house? Today, use a leaner mince. It’s lower in saturated fat!
Enjoy a pizza today but choose a lower-fat topping such as vegetables, ham, fish or prawns, instead of pepperoni, salami or extra cheese.
Skim to be trim
Today, skim the fat off the top of your casserole or stew before serving.
Just for the halibut
Make fish pie tonight using reduced-fat spread and 1% fat milk.
What a spread!
Use a reduced-fat spread on your bread today, instead of butter.
Beef up your chilli
Today, try the official dish of the US state of Texas – but use leaner mince to reduce the saturated fat content. Or try it vegetarian-style for a change!
Make mashed potato with reduced-fat spread instead of butter, and 1% fat milk or skimmed milk, instead of whole or semi-skimmed milk.
Don’t chicken out!
Take the skin off your chicken before you eat it tonight and reduce the saturated fat content.
Using cheese to flavour a dish or sauce tonight? Try a strong-tasting cheese, such as mature Cheddar, because then you’ll need less.
Trim the fat off your chops or steak tonight, to cut down on saturated fat.
Fancy eggs for breakfast? Skip the oil and butter. Poach, boil or dry-fry your eggs this morning and get the day off to a great start.
Tonight, try a tomato sauce on your pasta. It’s lower in saturated fat than a creamy or cheesy sauce.
Today, use 1% fat milk on your cereal. It has about half the saturated fat of semi-skimmed.
Be a drain brain
If you’re making a dish containing mince, brown it first and then drain off the fat before adding other ingredients.
Use the grill instead of the frying pan today, whatever meat you’re cooking.
What a grate idea!
Make cheese go further by grating cheese instead of slicing it. This can mean you use less. Healthy for you and your wallet!
Give potatoes a roasting
Make your roast potatoes healthier by cutting them into larger pieces than usual and using just a little sunflower or olive oil.
Unsat that fat
Today, when you’re cooking, use an unsaturated oil such as sunflower, rapeseed or olive, rather than butter, lard or ghee.
Tips for chips
Choose thick, straight-cut chips instead of French fries or crinkle-cut, and if you’re making your own, pop them in the oven with a drizzle of sunflower oil, rather than deep-frying.
The milky way
Today, swap any large whole-milk lattes for regular ‘skinny’ ones.
No mistaken bacon
Craving a bacon buttie? Choose back bacon instead of streaky bacon today. And if you’re cooking your own, grill the bacon instead of frying.
If you’re out and about or ordering an Indian takeaway tonight, go for dry or tomato-based dishes, such as tandoori or madras, instead of creamy curries such as korma, passanda or massala. And choose plain rice and chapatti instead of pilau rice and naan.
The munch bunch
If you’re out tonight and get the late-night munchies, this challenge is for you. At the kebab shop, go for a shish kebab with pitta bread and salad, rather than a doner kebab.
Treat yourself to a Chinese takeaway tonight, but choose a lower-fat dish such as steamed fish, chicken chop suey or Szechwan prawns.
Thai tonight? Try a stir-fried or steamed dish containing chicken, fish or vegetables. Watch out for curries containing coconut milk, which is high in saturated fat, and if you do choose one of these, try not to eat all the sauce.
For better or wurst
Sausages tonight? Compare labels on the packs and choose the ones lower in saturated fat. And make sure you grill them instead of frying.
Ready steady go!
Compare the labels on different ready meals – there can be a big difference in saturated fat content. And pick the one lower in saturated fat.
If you need a snack today, try picking up some fruit, toast, a low-fat yoghurt or a handful of unsalted nuts, instead of chocolate, doughnuts, croissants or pastries.
Have 1% fat milk in all your hot drinks today. It has about half the saturated fat of semi-skimmed.
If you’re going to have something sweet, instead of cakes or biscuits, try having a currant bun, scone or some malt loaf – plain or with reduced-fat spread.
Take the hurt out of yoghurt
Today, choose a type of yoghurt lower in fat and saturated fat than the one you normally have. There can be a big difference between different products.
Today, ask your butcher for a lean cut, or compare labels on different types of meat and choose the one lower in saturated fat.