Healthier fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats - omega-3 and omega-6. These fats reduce the 'bad' LDL cholesterol in your blood and increase the 'good' HDL cholesterol. This helps to lower your risk of getting heart disease.
Unhealthy fats include saturated fats and trans fats. Too much saturated and trans fat contributes to the build up of fatty material, called plaque, on the inside of your blood vessels and is a major cause of heart disease. These fats can increase LDL cholesterol in our blood that leads to the plaque. Lowering saturated fat in the diet will help to lower LDL cholesterol.
Foods high in saturated fat include
- Hard and full fat soft cheeses
- Full fat dairy products
- Crème fraiche
- Chicken skin
- Fat on meats
- Processed meat such as sausages, burgers and salami
- Coconut oil
- Coconut milk
- Palm oil
- Fatty or fried take-away foods
- Packaged cakes and biscuits
What about cholesterol?
Cholesterol in foods has only a small effect on your LDL cholesterol, especially when compared with the much greater increase caused by saturated and trans fat in food.
How can I get the balance right to reduce my risk of heart disease?
Instead of cutting out all of the fat you eat, try to choose the healthier polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and limit the amount of the less healthy saturated and trans fats that you eat.
Healthy heart tip
Just one small morning cappuccino with full fat milk could provide almost a third of your daily maximum of saturated fat. Over a year this amounts to more than 1 kilo of saturated fat. By switching to a skinny cappuccino you wipe out almost all of that saturated fat from your diet.
Q&As on dietary fats and overweight/obesity for the general population (2003)
Position statement on dietary fats and overweight/obesity (2003)