Not all fats are the same. Some have been found to have a negative impact on health, while others are beneficial. We recommend choosing foods that contain mostly unsaturated fats ('good fats') and are low in saturated and trans fats ('bad fats'). Research has found that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat in our diet reduces the risk of heart disease. For more information about heart disease visit the Heart Foundation website.
All fats are high in energy (kilojoules), and so can contribute to weight gain. Being above a healthy weight increases the link of 13 cancers and a range of other health problems.
Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Foods that contain unsaturated fats (‘good fats') include:
- Olive, canola, sunflower, soybean, sesame and peanut oils
- Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated margarines
- Nuts and seeds
- Oily fish, for example salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna
Saturated fats can increase blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
Foods that contain saturated fats (‘bad fats') include:
- High-fat dairy products such as cream and ice-cream
- Pastries, biscuits, cakes, pies and chocolate
- Fried take-away foods
- Fat on meat
- Coconut and palm oil
Tips to reduce your overall fat intake and select healthier fats:
- Use reduced-fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream and custard
- Buy lean cuts of meat and trim fat from meat
- Remove skin from chicken before cooking
- Enjoy at least 3 fish meals a week, and include oily fish (including atlantic salmon, gemfish and spanish mackerel, and canned fish such as sardines, salmon and tuna)
- Use non-stick cookware and try an oil spray as it reduces the amount of oil you use
- Use only good fats in cooking and as salad dressings,
- Include avocado in salads and sandwiches
- Enjoy nuts as a snack or in cooking
- Replace butter with avocado, hummus or ricotta as a sandwich spread
- Go easy on cakes, biscuits and fast foods