Did you know there are different types of fat in food?
Some fats, like saturated and trans fats in high amounts, are not good for our health.
There are however some good fats, and children and adults all need to include small amounts of healthy fats in their diet, while limiting food and drinks that are high in unhealthy saturated and trans fats.
But how do we get the fat balance right?Saturated fat, trans fat, unsaturated fat, omega 3 & 6 – it all seems so confusing!
Saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy fats due to their chemical structure. Too much of these fats can increase the amount of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) in our blood, which leads to clogging of blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
These are found mainly in animal foods such as fatty meats, dairy foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt – especially the full-fat ones) and butter. They are also found in two vegetable oils: palm oil and coconut oil.
While they’re actually unsaturated fats, their chemical structures make them act like a saturated fats, and so they will also increase the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in our blood.
Trans fats in food can be found in two forms:
Naturally occurring fats in some animal foods like beef, lamb, veal and mutton and dairy products, especially full-fat products
Industrially produced fats in processed foods like deep fried foods and bakery goods. Because they can be found in all sorts of foods, it’s important to know where trans fats might be lurking in your diet.
Try These Ten Easy Swaps to Limit Unhealthy Fats
See how easy it is to make some really simple swaps in your food choices to lower the amount of unhealthy fats you eat – without losing out on flavour.
swap full-cream milk, yoghurt and custard for low-fat varieties. They have just as much calcium as the full-fat varieties
swap full-fat cheese for reduced-fat cheese and keep the serve size small (40 grams = 2 slices)
swap butter for margarine on toast and sandwiches, and in cooking
swap cream on desserts for low-fat ricotta mixed with a little apple juice, or a dollop of low-fat yoghurt
swap sour cream on savoury meals for a dollop of low-fat yoghurt
swap fatty sandwich meats such as fritz, salami and mettwurst for lean ham, turkey, chicken, beef, tuna, salmon or sardines
swap fatty meat cuts for leaner ones. Choose lean beef, lamb or pork cutlets, and trim off any visible fat on meat, and skin on chicken before cooking
swap deep-fried meat, chicken or fish for grilled or oven baked
swap creamy dishes for tomato-based dishes, or swap cream in recipes for a tin of light evaporated milk
swap biscuits, cakes and pastries for healthier alternatives such as a delicious fruit platter, fruit loaf with a little margarine, or for the occasional treat, a home made cake using polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils or margarine like canola, olive, safflower, sunflower, peanut oil.
Healthy Fats – the Ones we Need
Healthy fats are mainly found in plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds and grains, but are also in fish and lean meats.
They help to keep the good and bad cholesterol in your blood in the right balance.
There are two main categories of healthy fats.
Monounsaturated fats are found in oils like canola and olive oil as well as in avocados and nuts such as peanuts, almonds and cashews.
There are two main sub-categories of polyunsaturated fats:
omega-3 fats are found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna, and also in linseed and walnuts
omega-6 fats are found in nuts and seeds, nut and seed pastes like peanut butter and tahini, and also in fish, safflower and sunflower margarines and oils.
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