How to eat a diet low in saturated fat

Diet low in saturated fat

Saturated fats can be harmful to health. They adversely affect blood cholesterol levels and are associated with increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are found in butter, lard and dripping, coconut and palm kernel oils, fatty meats, some vegetable oils (hydrogenated for use in baked foods and processed foods). Lesser amounts are found in meat and full-fat milk products, especially cheese.

Unsaturated fats are an important part of a healthy diet. These fats help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels (among other health benefits) when they replace saturated fats in the diet.

How to eat a diet low in saturated fat

Low-fat diets (even those low in saturated fat) are not suitable for children less than 2 years old due to their relatively high energy requirements. For children over two years of age, adolescents, and adults, a diet low in saturated fat is recommended.

Discretionary choices
Limit those foods which contain high levels of saturated fats such as:
  • Butter, cream, lard and dripping, coconut and palm or palm kernel oils.
  • Cakes, biscuits, pastries, chocolate, potato crisps and other high-fat snack products
  • Processed meats such as salami or mettwurst
  • Fatty meats, including most sausages
  • Takeaway foods, for example, commercial burgers, pizzas, chicken, chips and fried foods cooked in hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Five Food Groups
Within the Five Food Groups, saturated fat is mainly found in meat, poultry, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese.

To reduce the saturated fat from these groups:
  • Trim visible fat from meats.
  • Remove skin and fat pads from chicken.
  • Use reduced fat milk, yogurt and cheese (children under two years should use full-fat milk products as they need the extra energy for growth).
  • Use small amounts of unsaturated spreads or oils in preference to other cooking fats.
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