Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats

Replacing saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats can reduce your risk of heart disease. 

Use foods with unsaturated fat in place of foods with saturated fat. Limit trans fat as much as possible.

Where your fats come from

Sources of saturated and/or trans fat Sources of unsaturated fat
Processed meat (like sausages, burgers and salami)
Fatty or fried take-away foods
Packaged cakes and biscuits 
Hard and full fat soft cheeses
Full fat dairy products
Crème fraiche
Chicken skin
Fat on meats
Coconut oil
Coconut milk
Palm oil    
Oils made from olives, nuts and seeds (like olive oil, canola, sunflower, safflower)
Oily fish
Lean meats and poultry, eggs 
Margarine spreads (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)

Easy ideas for making the switch

Go nuts

Nuts are an important part of a heart healthy eating pattern. They’re a good source of the healthier fats, and regular consumption of nuts is linked to lower levels of bad (LDL) and total blood cholesterol. So include a handful (30 g) every day! Add them to salads, yoghurt, or your morning cereal. Choose unsalted, dry roasted or raw varieties.

Switch to reduced fat dairy

Making the shift to reduced fat milk, cheese and yoghurt is an easy way to removed saturated fat without compromising on calcium. In a year, you’ll get rid of 4 kg of saturated fat from your diet if you do this with 1 cup of milk, 2 slices (40 g) of cheese and a small tub of yoghurt a day. You can remove even more by choosing no fat varieties.

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 kg of saturated fat. By switching to skim milk cappuccino you’d wipe out almost all of that saturated fat from your diet.

Replace butter with margarine spread

Most of us use a spread everyday: on toast, our sandwiches, and in cooking. These small amounts add up to large amounts over time.

Butter has around 50% saturated fat and 4% trans fat. Margarine spread is much lower in unhealthy fats. In spreads with the Heart Foundation Tick, saturated fat plus trans fat must be no more than 28% of the total fat, and trans fat must be no more than 1% of the total fat. They’re also a good source of healthier fats.

Even if you’re on medicine to lower your blood cholesterol, reducing saturated fat in your diet is still very important, and will improve your cholesterol results. Choose a margarine spread made with healthier oils (like canola, olive or sunflower etc), preferably one containing plant sterols.

Tips for replacing butter

  • Swap to margarine spread on your toast and sandwiches. This could remove a huge 3 kg of saturated fat from your diet in 1 year!
  • Use healthier oils like olive and canola, and margarine spreads made from them, instead of butter when you cook. Most recipes still work well if you do, and it’s a much healthier way to cook.
  • Some people think butter is more ‘natural’ than margarine spread. A better ‘natural’ choice would be using olive oil, avocados, nut butters or tahini – try those instead.

Serve up some fish

Include fish or seafood in your family meals 2–3 times a week. Fish are great sources of the good omega-3 fats. See our fish recipes for some ideas

Choose healthier snacks

Cakes, pastries and biscuits are one of the main sources of saturated fat in our diets. Deep-fried food, like chips, and shop-bought cakes and biscuits also contain unhealthy trans fat. Next time you reach for one of these foods, why not swap it for a healthier snack such as plain unsalted nuts, fruit or reduced fat milk, cheese or yoghurt to tide you through to your next meal.

Watch out for coconut oil claims

You’ve probably seen claims about coconut oil being a healthy food, and perhaps even a ‘superfood’.

Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat, and recent reviews of evidence show that coconut oil consumption raises your total blood cholesterol (both good HDL and bad LDL). High LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. The research suggests coconut may be better than butter in how it effects blood cholesterol, but it’s not as good as other plant oils like olive and canola oil.

So, like butter, coconut oil is something to use only sometimes and in small amounts. Use healthier oils like olive and canola as your main cooking oil.



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