Key Facts: Fats

  • Fat is made up of fatty acids, some of which are essential for health, in small amounts;
  • Foods that contain a lot of fat provide a lot of energy. Too much can cause people to become overweight;
  • Fat carries some vitamins (A, D, E and K) round the body and is necessary for their absorption.

Fat is eaten in three ways:

  • Fat added to food, e.g. butter or spread on bread;
  • Visible far, e.g. on meat;
  • Hidden fat, e.g. in biscuits, cake and chocolate.

Main types of fat:

  • Saturated fat;
  • Unsaturated fat.

Saturated fat

  • Usually solid at room temperature;
  • Found in meat, full fat dairy foods and pastry;
  • Too much can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Foods high in saturated fat:

  • Meat products, e.g. sausages;
  • Cuts of meat with visible white fat, skin;
  • Cheese, especially hard cheese;
  • Butter, ghee and lard;
  • Pastries, pies, samosas;
  • Some savoury snacks;
  • Chocolate, cakes and biscuits;
  • Cream, soured cream. crème fraiche and ice cream;
  • Coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil.

Unsaturated fat

  • Usually liquid at room temperature;
  • Tend to be vegetable fats and oils;
  • Can help lower cholesterol levels;
  • Provide the essential fatty acids.

Foods high in unsaturated fat:

  • Oily fish, e.g. mackerel, salmon, sardines;
  • Avocados;
  • Nuts;
  • Seeds;
  • Oils made from sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable and spreads made from these.
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