What is saturated fat?
Saturated fat is a type of fat in food. Due to its chemical structure, it is usually hard at room temperature. Saturated is found in significant amounts in animal foods, such as the visible fat on meat and chicken, butter, cream and full fat dairy products, and in plant foods like palm and coconut oil.
Why should I reduce saturated fat in my diet?
Currently, Australians are eating more saturated fat than the recommended intake of 10% of total energy intake or less. The Heart Foundation recommends for heart health that saturated fat be reduced to 7% of total energy.
Saturated fat increases blood cholesterol, in particular LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ type). Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat reduces the risk of heart disease.
According to the 2011/12 National Nutrition Survey, the top three sources of saturated fat in the Australian diet are:
- Milk and dairy products (including foods like ice-cream)
- Biscuits, cakes and pastries
- Meat, and poultry (including processed meats)
Five quick tips to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet:
- Limit foods like cakes, biscuits, pastries and savoury snacks. These foods are termed ‘discretionary foods’ and are foods that should be limited sometimes and in small amounts. Cakes, pastries, biscuits, pizza, hamburgers and hot chips are one of the main sources of saturated fat in our diets.
- Swap full fat dairy foods for reduced, low or no fat dairy foods for all family members more than two years old. You will remove 4 kg of saturated fat from your diet in a year if you do this with 1 cup of milk, two slices of cheese and a small tub of yoghurt a day. You can remove even more by choosing no fat foods.
- Swap butter for a margarine spread made from canola, sunflower, olive or dairy blends. Just doing this with your morning toast and sandwiches at lunch will remove 2.85 kg of saturated fat from your diet in one year.
- Cut the fat. Trim all visible fat from meat, remove skin from chicken and try to avoid processed meat (e.g. sausages and salami). Look for products that have the Heart Foundation Tick.
- Eat two to three serves of oily fish a week. A serve of fish is 150 g, which is about the size of your whole hand. Including fish two to three times a week instead of meat or chicken is a simple way to reduce saturated fat in the diet while getting the added benefits of omega-3. Add fish oil capsules and omega-3 enriched foods and drinks to your diet if you’re not eating enough oily fish.
In the video below, Heart Foundation Healthy Weight Director Susan Anderson explains how to reduce the amount of saturated fat in our diet in five easy steps. Today footage courtesy Channel 9.