Fat: the facts

We all need some fat in our diet. But too much of a particular kind of fat – saturated fat – can raise our cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. It's important to cut down on fat and choose foods that contain unsaturated fat.

Eating too much fat can also make us more likely to put on weight, because foods that are high in fat are high in energy too, which is measured in kilojoules (kJ) or calories (kcal). Being overweight raises our risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as coronary heart disease.

But this doesn’t mean that all fat is bad. We need some fat in our diet because it helps the body absorb certain nutrients. Fat is a source of energy as well as some vitamins (such as vitamins A and D), and provides essential fatty acids that the body can’t make itself.

There are two main types of fat found in food: saturated and unsaturated. But which fats should we be eating more of?

Fats to cut down on

As part of a healthy diet, we should try to cut down on food that is high in saturated fat.

Saturated fat

Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat: about 20% more than the recommended maximum, according to the British Dietetic Association.

  • The average man should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat a day.
  • The average woman should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.

Eating a diet high in saturated fat can cause the level of cholesterol in your blood to build up over time. Raised cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • fatty cuts of meat
  • meat products, including sausages and pies
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • cheese, especially hard cheese
  • cream, soured cream and ice cream
  • some savoury snacks and chocolate confectionery
  • biscuits, cakes and pastries

Trans fats

Trans fats are found naturally at low levels in some foods, such as those from animals, including meat and dairy products. They can also be found in foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Hydrogenated vegetable oils may contain trans fats. If a food contains hydrogenated vegetable oil then this must be declared on the ingredients list.

Like saturated fats, trans fats can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. This is why it’s recommended that trans fats should make up no more than 2% of the energy (kJ/kcal) we get from our diet. For adults, this is no more than about 5g a day.

However, most people in the UK don’t eat a lot of trans fats. On average, we eat about half the recommended maximum. Most of the supermarkets in the UK have removed hydrogenated vegetable oil from all their own-brand products.

We eat a lot more saturated fats than trans fats. This means that when looking at the amount of fat in your diet, it’s more important to focus on reducing the amount of saturated fat.

Fats we can eat more of (unsaturated fats)

Remember, we don't need to cut down on every type of fat. Some fats are not only good for us, most people should be eating more of them.

Unsaturated fats

Eating unsaturated fats instead of saturated can help lower blood cholesterol. Unsaturated fat, such as omega-3 essential fatty acids, is found in: 

  • oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
  • nuts and seeds
  • sunflower and olive oils

Unsaturated fats are also found in fruit and vegetables, such as avocados.

Tips on eating less fat

Check food labels

Nutrition labels on food packaging can help you to reduce the amount of fat you eat:

High-fat foods: more than 17.5g of total fat per 100g

Low-fat foods: less than 3g of total fat per 100g

These tips can help you cut the total amount of fat in your diet:

  • Compare nutrition labels when shopping, so you can pick foods lower in fat. Use the 'per serving' or 'per 100g' information to compare different foods. Remember, servings may vary, so read the label carefully.
  • Ask your butcher for lean cuts of meat, or compare nutrition labels on meat packaging.
  • Choose lower-fat dairy products, such as 1% fat milk or lower-fat cheese.
  • Grill, bake, poach or steam food rather than frying or roasting, so that you won't need to add any extra fat.
  • Measure oil with tablespoons rather than pouring it straight from a container: this will help you use less.
  • Trim visible fat and take skin off meat before cooking.
  • Use the grill instead of the frying pan, whatever meat you’re cooking.
  • Put more vegetables or beans in casseroles, stews and curries, and a bit less meat. And skim the fat off the top before serving.
  • When making sandwiches, try leaving out the butter or spread: you might not need it if you're using a moist filling. When you do use spread, go for a reduced-fat variety and choose one that is soft straight from the fridge, so it's easier to spread thinly.

Get more practical tips on eating less saturated fat.

Nutrition labels

The nutrition labels on food packaging can help you to cut down on total fat and saturated fat.

Labels containing nutrition information are usually on the back of food packaging. This label will often tell you how much fat and saturated fat is contained in 100g of the food, and sometimes the amount per portion or per serving.

Some packaging also displays nutrition labels on the front, which give at-a-glance information on specific nutrients. These labels may contain information on reference intakes (RIs) or colour-coded nutrition information to help you make healthier choices.

When colour-coding is used on food labels, red means 'high'. Leave red foods or the occasional treat, and aim to eat mainly foods that are green or amber.

Total fat

So what counts as high fat and low fat?

  • High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g. May be colour-coded red.
  • Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g. May be colour-coded green.

Saturated fat

Look out for 'saturates' or 'sat fat' on the label: this tells you how much saturated fat is in the food.

  • High: more than 5g saturates per 100g. May be colour-coded red.
  • Low: 1.5g saturates or less per 100g. May be colour-coded green.

If the amount of fat or saturated fat per 100g is in between these figures, that's a medium level, and may be colour-coded amber.

What 'lower fat' or 'reduced fat' really means

Just because a food packet contains the words 'lower fat' or 'reduced fat' doesn’t necessarily mean it's a healthy choice.

The lower-fat claim simply means that the food is 30% lower in fat than the standard equivalent. So if the type of food in question is high in fat in the first place, the lower-fat version may also still be high in fat.

For example, a lower-fat mayonnaise is 30% lower in fat than the standard version, but is still high in fat.

Also, these foods aren't necessarily low in calories. Often the fat is replaced with sugar, and the food may end up with the same, or an even higher, energy content.

To be sure of the fat content and the energy content, remember to check the nutrition label on the packet.

Page last reviewed: 19/06/2013

Next review due: 19/06/2015

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Comments

The 41 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

philwolsey said on 25 August 2014

The advice doesn't seem to fit the science. There is strong evidence that fats are not implicated in obesity, cholesterol or heart disease. This is some years old and calls into question the rest of the advice on this website. Not recommended.

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peopledeservethetruth said on 11 July 2014

I share the frustration of nickpreece1.

Personally I do nothing to avoid saturated fat, and eat full-fat milk, cheese, butter, nuts and red meat. I workout 3 times a week - nothing major. At my 40-year health check, I had excellent cholesterol levels and my bodyfat percentage (not BMI which is very misleading) is 13% (proud to have a 6-pack).

People are confused because of a debate lasting at least since Ancel Keyes presented his much-criticised lipid hypothesis to the US government in 1950s, in which he claimed sat fat consumption is linked to heart disease. Truth is, he only published 7 of the results in hiss 22-country study - the results which fitted with his hypothesis. That's where it all started folks. For more, read the above or The Diet Delusion by Gary Taubes.

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apricotpraline said on 25 June 2014

pinkypnk: this comment is especially for you :) I stumbled across a daily mail article about 'freelee the banana girl' a few months ago and after reading up on what she had to say I immediately went vegan - but low-fat vegan, meaning I keep the fat content of my diet as low as possible, I don't worry about protein as it's naturally in fruit and whole grains anyway and I make sure I eat a minimum of 2000 calories per day with an emphasis on fruit, vegetables and whole grains. I dropped 14 pounds in 8 weeks even though I averaged 2,500 calories per day. some days it was even 3,000 calories. what I have found is that if my day's 2,500 calories is from mainly bran flakes/special k with almond milk, and bread then the weight slowly, steadily comes off, but the more the 2,500 calories are from fruit and vegetables the faster the weight comes off :) I have managed all this with no exercise as I have arthritis in my knees.

fruit and vegetables work miracles at weight loss so long as fat is cut out of the diet as much as practicable. there is absolutely no need to be consuming all this fat the medical profession tells us is healthy for us. if we did we'd be eating over a mug of 'healthy fat' per week (based on the 70g fat RDA). how is that healthy for anyone? nature already put small amounts of fat in the fruits, vegetable and grains we eat, we don't need to slather our food in fat. about 10% of my calories per day comes from fat and my body is happy with that and shedding 1.6 pounds per week with no calorie cutting, no hunger and no exercise or funky supplements. :)

my message to everyone is: cut down on fat and eat an abundance of fruit, vegetables and whole grains (like brown rice) for weight loss without hunger!

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pinkyponk said on 23 June 2014

Ive just been to the doctors and been told again to lose the weight which ive been trying to lose for year s, so I thought I,d join this, ive been a vegetarian for over 20 years and now im a vegan so I dont eat meat or anything like cakes biscuits or anything with dairy or animal fats and yet the fat wont shift.I am on tablets for various ailments so im wondering if theyre not helping, I know I need to get out and about more but any strenuous exercise is a no no . but most of the healthy stuff of what ive just read is what I have all the time so I dont feel like ive learnt anything at all . maybe its just down to not exercising .but im fed up with the whole thing .

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andrea josie said on 10 June 2014

Don't really get the issue here, it's just highlighting the potential risks in having too much fat. Everything in moderation....cheer up :)

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nickpreece1 said on 28 March 2014

Stumbled across this article whilst researching something else.
What a complete and utter disaster...........when will we have an NHS that gives a monkeys about handing out the best advice.
Come on folks....update your site to reflect the current research otherwise you'll never save any of the 5.1 billion pounds that obesity is supposed to be costing us!!

If you guys are writing rubbish like this people will follow it as you're the NHS and most people trust you.
It's very frustrating reading stuff that is so wrong.......its as if whoever has written it doesn't understand fat, where it comes from what it does and what foods contain it and in what proportion. The general public would be better off if they were told the truth about fat.

And don't even mention the 'Eat well' plate to me........I may have a nervous breakdown!!

Please, please reconsider this article or remove it completely if you can't give us the facts! Thanks. Nick.

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Jazsnap said on 25 March 2014

This is a very poor article and, in my opinion, completely wrong, saturated fat is not the enemy at all and there are an increasing amount of studies that back this up. Fat was mistakenly blamed for increases in CHD after WW2, which now could possibly be explained by a boom in smoking around that time (although we were ignorant of the adverse affects of smoking back then), and has been the scapegoat ever since. We've been eating less and less fat for some time now, it's even difficult to find full-fat yoghurt at the supermarket, but we're still getting sicker and more obese as a nation! As already mentioned, Gary Taubes' book 'The Diet Delusion' is essential reading for anyone interested in the subject of how we came to be in the ridiculous situation.

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Statinlobbyistsrule said on 31 December 2013

I think this emphasis on cholesterol being a bad thing is an excuse for processed food manufacturers to cut costs by using cheaper ingredients (to wit, the Mars bar), and a plot to push statins.
Our bodies manufacture cholesterol, they do not simply accumulate it, and it serves a function in our nervous system. Without adequate cholesterol, we are susceptible to stroke, heart attack, heart failure and other maladies.
I question the levels at which acceptable HDL/LDL and total cholesterol are set. I am very lean, take long walks, make my meals, etc., yet am measured as 'borderline high' for total cholesterol.
Eskimos have eaten whale blubber for millennia - shouldn't they have died out from coronary failure, given the article's recommendations?
Also, why should women eat a lower percentage of fat than men?
I agree with previous commenters that over-consumption of sugar poses much greater danger.

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Ian UK said on 22 December 2013

This article is at least ten years behind the science. It is the same old failed low fat dogma that has not helped to stop the diabesity epidemic. Can the NHS not take a look at the facts? Give advice based on actual evidence and not give us old broken cliches about satured fat and cholesterol. The NHS needs to stand up, admit past mistakes and give us nutritional advice which is based on research. Saturated fat is healthy. Cholesterol is a vital part of our biology. It is a key component of nearly all of our cells. This is not an accident. The liver makes cholesterol whether we eat it or not. I eat low carb and high fat and I have never felt better and never had such a good lipid panel. HDL through the roof and low trigs. I eat lots of butter, animal fat and coconut oil. As a nice bi-product my body fat has dramatically reduced because my body is adapted to metabolise fat. I eat delicious food, never go hungry and never count calories.

Ancel Keys was utterly wrong about fat and heart disease. Can we please make choices based on evidence now? Come on NHS, pull your finger out!

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Camels Toe said on 26 November 2013

I thought low fat diets were "so over" but obviously not. Everyone I know who buys low fat dairy and drinks diet sodas is fat. Eat the full fat versions as they will satisfy you in smaller quantities. Fats are essential to health hence "essential fatty acids". I am sticking up for saturated fats. They are unfairly maligned and actually they are really good for you in their natural forms. NHS hasn't even evolved to start talking about low carb diets. It's still recommending high carb low fat diets for diabetics and to the rest of us. So that we can become diabetic too and then they can prescribe us more pills!

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SaturatedMaverick said on 09 November 2013

So much of this information about fats is wrong wrong wrong.
1. Natural saturated fats are perfectly healthy and in fact essential for our health. Yes they do raise cholesterol but only the hdl and the large particles of ldl (so called 'bad' chol). The actual bad part of ldl is the small dense particles which are produced as a result of carbohydrate, in particular sugar consumption). There is no compelling evidence to reduce saturated fats . Eat lard, butter, dripping, coconut oil, olive oil and avacados. When cooking at high temps use lard, dripping or coconut oil as they wont degrade into harmful elements. Did you know cholesterol is an essential molecule needed by every cell in the body. It is so essential that if we dont eat enough fat our body wil make it.
2. Polyunsaturated seed oils are inflammatory and harmful to our health!! They contain way too much omega 6 (in relation to omega 3) which is inflammatory. In addition the manufacturing process used to extract the oils from the seeds uses high temperatures and chemicals which create free radicals in the oil (oxidation).
3. The only I agree with on this page is to cut down on manufactured cakes, biscuits etc as they contain artificial trans-fats (which the us are looking to ban) and refined carbohydrates, (flours and sugar) which will raise your blood sugar and long term create insulin resistance which is why the uk is getting obese and deeloping type 2 diabetes.

Please look up Dr Aseem Malhotra, an NHS Cardiologist. He has published in the BMJ in October saying that Saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease. We should be cuting down on refined carbs and sugar. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/22/butter-cheese-saturated-fat-heart-specialist

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oliverthered said on 29 April 2013

This is GCSE level stuff and totally ignores fat metabolism and LDL/HDL (there's good and bad cholesterol) and irritation of the artries leading to fat build up as per current research.

So for fat metabolism things like carbs(sugars, including starch) getting turned more into ldl than hdl making carbs worse for 'fat' than 'fat' in quite a few cases.

Also that modern research shows diets low in carbs are better for things like metabolic syndrom than diets low in fats.

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yahoops said on 25 November 2012

Some time ago I asked NHS Choices for the evidence that saturated fatty acids were bad for our health. I was referred to the Department for Health. They emailed the following explanation:

"The Department’s advice on saturated fats is based on recommendations from the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy, as set out in ‘Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the UK’, which was published in 1991, and ‘Nutritional Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease’, which was published in 1994.

This advice is in line with more recent assessments of the evidence, including the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA’s) ‘Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fats’, which was published in 2010. The ESFA considered the evidence on saturated fats in relation to various risk factors and health outcomes including cholesterol levels, inflammation, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

You can access the EFSA’s Scientific Opinion at
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/1461.pdf

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence also recommended a reduction in the population’s consumption of saturated fat in 2010, following consultation on the evidence.

The Department of Health continues to keep a watching brief on emerging evidence in this area. "

So there you have it, it's just the opinion of a committee. .

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derekn7 said on 09 October 2012

I personally cook with dripping and always have done, i never get ill and i am strong and fit, i also like to add some dripping to foods such as curry as it adds flavour. I remember my nana used to eat dripping straight from the packet for energy, she was never ill that i remember and never ate 5 a year let alone 5 a day.
I also like to drink and when i do i eat donner kebab meat. Eat foods from the land and drink plenty of water and your health and energy will flourish.

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MPBrown said on 10 July 2012

http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract :Meta Study released last year.

Saturated fat really isn't the cause of heart disease.

Correlation doesn't mean causation...

gbogey and claire 17, I am afraid your comments are uneducated and use "Common knowledge" thinking based on no good scientific research at all. Just because everyone says something doesn't make it right.
Saturated fat = bad is the same thinking as "The world is flat" - Everyone believed it because everyone else said it was true. But it became obvious it was not true and never was.

Also for your information the china study has been completely discredited many times over.


You might like to read the extensive analysis of the raw data used to write the china study. The link to the analysis is in the above link. Written by a very bright girl called Denise Minger.

Try 1 month eating high fat (Very low Poly, especially omega 6), moderate protein, moderate fruit and veg) and your body will make it very clear you are on the right path.

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User363614 said on 02 July 2012

Is this the evidence that supports demonising saturated fat? http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(11)00314-5/abstract

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WaggyFromDerby said on 25 June 2012

My mum is 90, my dad died at 85. My mum has always been obese, my dad always skiinny. My brothers and sisters, and cousins, uncles aunts on my mums side are all obese. My dads side are all skinny. There has to be more to being overweight than just food, so I started asking questions. My dad's relative are bacon & eggs people, roast dinners, stews. Fish is only eaten fried if at all. Lots of meat, the fattier the better, lots of veg, no fruit, but also no puddings.
My mums side, all cereal, mainly porridge, bread, processed food and home cooked low fat meals (mainly carbs).
I have my answer. I am annoyed by the "low fat" advice. For instance where did the idea of "5.2" being the ideal measure fo cholestrol. From a committe who needed money from Congress. Look at tins of veg, pickled onions, in fact almost every thing from supermarket shelves, you'll find "modified startch", sugar as main ingredients. Eat meat, fish, chicken, poultry, dont worry about fat, your body will tell you when your full, Eat fresh veg also, dont care which but plenty of leafs, and less potato. Dont eat "healthy foods" without reading the label to see whats in the, in fact dont eat anything manufactured by the food industry.

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mal1k said on 20 June 2012

It is amazing how many people (including researchers and doctors - PS I am a researcher and a doctor too) forget the role of inheritance and genes. People have have been slim and remain slim have more than just their "healthy efforts" to credit. Having said that, we should of course all aim for a healthy diet and health life. Exercise (not intense but sustained that raises heart rate) on its own helps improve cholesterol levels.

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tom91 said on 19 April 2012

This page is full of the backward thinking that we have done for the last 40 years or so. Looks like its working :)

Lets begin with this statement on the page about starchy foods

"When cooking or serving potatoes, try to go for lower fat (polyunsaturated) spreads or unsaturated oils like olive or sunflower oil, instead of butter"

The higher that saturated fat content of an oil the better it is for cooking. This is because saturated fats are more stable under heat. Cooking with polyunsaturated fats and monounsatured fats will lead to the creation of lipid peroxides,and reactive oxygen species which can damage variuos components of cells. They can also cause DNA damage. Well done NHS.


Now let me say this

Correlation does not prove causation.

Most of the studies implicating saturated fat are epidemiological studies or studies done on flawed animals models, i.e feeding a cow saturated fat even though it is not adapted to eat that food.

Eating saturated fat does raise LDL cholesterol. This is fact. But what the NHS doctors don't understand is that there are two types of LDL, Pattern A (Large bouyant) LDL and Pattern B (Small dense LDL). It turns out that eating saturated fat does change your LDL profile to pattern A. Pattern B increase with carbohydrate consumption. Pattern B is small and dense and can get trapped under the endothelial in the blood vessels and start plaque formation. Pattern A LDL cannot.

The advice on this page will make your cholesterol profile worse.

I'll finish with this

" Low fat diets are not the end all be all, they are useful to a small percentage of the population, hyper-responders, people with familial hypercholesterolemia etc. "

Mat Lalonde. PHd Organic Biochemistry (Harvard)

Fructose is the main problematic compound that we need to be eliminating, not saturated fat.

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Pravda said on 28 December 2011

Yes
User363614
Camels Toe
rodders995
User493129
Shawshank
Roshambo
Ginevra
mikes1990
You are all right.

Eventually people will see the Emperors new cloths for what they are.

Here are some totally undeniable FACTS

In the last 30 to 40 years the amount of saturated fats has come down as a proportion of out total diet.

The amount of grains/carbs that we eat has gone up to replace the fat in our new (new as in the first time in human evolution) “healthy diet” as recommended by the NHS and sponsored by big (processed) food, industrial farming and big pharmaceuticals (moto “no money in healthy people”).

The prevalence of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and inflammatory illnesses has sky rocketed.

Come on people do the math.

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abcdefghij said on 11 December 2011

On your other pages for each of the food types, you seem to describe why we should eat them- their benefits. However on this fats page it is a lot more negative. At the top of the page it states that we all need some fat in our diet, but there is no explanation as to why. Although it may be a small component to the diet, if it is needed then providing a reason may be beneficial.

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User363614 said on 24 September 2011

I thought meat eating hominids from which we evolved existed 2.5 million years ago, but I'll accept your premise Manic Monkey. Humans have eaten meat long enough to develop the adaptation of producing hydrochloric acid for digestion though, a trait of omnivores and carnivores.

How long have high glycaemic foods such as rice, processed wheat flour, and potatoes been a major food group in the human diet?

How long have refined omega-6 fats been eaten in the quantities they are today? (Corn oil results from chemical extraction, not pressing).

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User363614 said on 24 September 2011

If we acknowledge the need to limit sugar, then why not starchy foods, many of which are absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose faster than table sugar?

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User363614 said on 24 September 2011

Indeed, it is well documented that lowering the fat in your diet prevents heart disease, however, where is the evidence to support this?

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claire 17 said on 17 June 2011

The connection between saturated fat intake and heart disease is actually very well documented. Carbohydrates are not the cause of obesity. Excess carbohydrates in the form of sugar and fats are! Studies have shown that obese people tend to eat more fats.
The mediterranean diet, on which the food pyramid is based, used to work well and the incidence of obesity and heart disease in med countries was was practically NIL. Post war, med people changed their diets and started eating more red meat, more fats such as butter, and less plant products. suddenly obesity and heart disease have become an epidemic in med countries. It is not the shape of the pyramid that causes obesity but the size of it. So yes, if you eat double your carb portion, it will make you fat, no doubt! The recommended intakes are 40 - 60% calories from carbs, max 30% from fats (15% monounsat, 7% polyunsat, 7% saturated fat), and the rest from protein. I think that this is very balanced, and you arent being told to completely cut out your fat intake. It isnt a high carb diet either.
I have followed this advice for all my life - I am 37 years old and have 3 kids. I am 159cm tall and weigh 53kg. I have weighed 53 kg since i was 18 years old. Following this advice my weight never yo-yoed at all. Post pregnancy, my weight went down to normal without any restrictive dieting - I just breastfed. My body is quite lean and not "skinny fat". And I never ever go hungry either. And its not just genetic. My family does have a tendency to get fat if we eat too much.

So for everybody's sake, be responsible and let the NHS do its work by giving good healthy advice. If you do not want to follow it, its up to you, but stop trying to convince people into starting an unhealthy fad. People who lose weight on a low carb diet just do so because they are consuming less calories than they did before.

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manic monkey said on 17 May 2011

Someone with an agenda no doubt. The article does not say that eating saturated fat for you - in fact it says that this fat is an essential part of any diet. What it does say is that eating too much of it may be harmful. Also the connection between a high saturated fat diet and high cholesterol has been well documented. The precise science may be complex, but the link has been demonstrated statistically for decades.
Oh, and just because it occurs naturally doesn't make it OK. Some of the most harmful toxins to man occur naturally. And, we haven't been eating saturated fats 'since the year dot - man did not start to eat meat until well into the last million years. For the previous three million to that man was vegetarian (just look at teeth morphology and compare with other grazers).
So please check your facts before you start preaching...

A. Vegetarian

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Camels Toe said on 05 May 2011

Please stop demonising saturated fats. They are essential for the body. I cannot believe a national organisation would be so short sighted as to recommend eschewing the naturally occurring fats that humans have eaten for centuries, since the year dot, in favour of nasty polyunsaturated oils. If you are in any doubt, look up how margarines and vegetable oils are made. Highly processed, involving the use of chemicals and in some cases metals, How can this be superior to the fat which occurs naturally, that which nature provides and which contains nutrients and is satiating? Maybe we think we are beating nature, that we can do better. We cannot. Diabetes is increasing, obesity is increasing, we hear that all the time. And people are clearly rejecting saturated fat in favour of polyunsaturated fat - any visit to a supermarket will tell you that. You will see many brands of vegetable spread and oil but I cannot get coconut oil or palm oil in mainstream supermarkets and usually only one brand of lard or dripping, no chicken fat and goose and duck fat is also relatively hard to come by. So if people are doing this and still we are having problems then clearly something is amiss. Saturated fat was never a problem in the first place. Sugar and grains are the problem - we over-consume them and what do we feed animals to fatten them up? Grains. Why should it be any different for us?

For me the proof is in the pudding. I eat full fat dairy only, use animal fats for frying and I am slim and full of energy. In fact I have lost a stone and a half and 5 inches around the waist. I have an hourglass figure and great muscle tone. I'm never ever starving hungry. I don't eat grains or sugar, I avoid too much fruit and never drink the juice cos it contains as much sugar as Coke. Look a bit deeper, learn how the body really works and you will see how there is actually no evidence that fat is fattening.

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rodders995 said on 25 March 2011

This article is so wrong, its embarrassing it has come from a official department.

"What’s more, too much of a particular kind of fat – saturated fat – can raise our cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease"

This is simply untrue. Its wrong, wrong, wrong. After 50 years of trying, nobody has ever successfully established a link between saturated fat and CHD. CHD, cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and even tooth caries all stem from one macro-nutrient that we were all urged to eat following the appalling mistaken belief that saturated fat was bad for us. Yes, by telling us that sat fat was bad, with no clinical evidence, the shift in dietary habits, starting in 1982 was that the consumption of refined carbohydrates exploded, as did the obesity crisis and cardiovascular problems that particularly affect diabetics.

Furthermore, to include 'saturated fat' and 'cholesterol' in the same sentence as if they are in any way inter-related is ignorance bordering on stupidity. That it comes from a Government department is unbelievable. Or maybe not.

Saturated fat is the healthiest fat by a long way. Vegetable oils are not what we evolved to eat, and were heavily promoted in the early part of the last century to the point where the manufacturers in the US managed to get the government to promote them. As usual, our authorities follow what happens in the US without questioning the science or its methodology. As a result, the financial interests of US vegetable oil manufacturers end up as British health advice on the NHS website. So, so wrong.

I know its difficult for the NHS to admit it is wrong in its advice, but for heaven's sake can you please bury this article and admit that saturated fat has no adverse effects on the body, and in fact is far, far, healthier than the alternatives of vegetables oils and highly refined industrial carbohydrates.

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User493129 said on 10 October 2010

I’ve tried every diet imaginable for the past 40 years, from fasting through veganism and NACNE/Pritikin-type diets to Atkins but my weight has steadily increased to the point where I am classed as morbidly obese. My energy and motivation levels have hovered around zero since birth. Recently several things happened to change all that.

First, two friends who ate a low-fat high-carb diet died of heart disease. Then I learned that two more who were on NHS-recommended diets were on medication for both high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Next, I read Good Calories, Bad Calories. Most important of all, I discovered metabolic typing (The Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott) and everything suddenly fell into place.

After following the fast-oxidiser regime for several weeks I have so far dumped 30 lb effortlessly, mysterious ailments have disappeared, my energy level has soared and, for the first time in my life, I know what motivation feels like – and all on a diet that would have gbogey recommending me to get measured for a coffin. All my food is full-fat, I cook in goose fat, I eat large amounts of rib-eye steaks, salmon, eggs, cheese, nuts and any other fatty protein I fancy, I have gold-top milk in my tea, double cream in my coffee and butter on my veg. Gone are the vile herb teas and lettuce and that utter abomination, skimmed milk. Calories? Pah!

gbogey, the claimed relationship between saturated fat and CHD is based on dubious science paid for by the US food industry. There is instead a clear relationship between triglycerides and CHD, and you make triglycerides from carbs not fats. There is no causal link between cholesterol and CHD, only an association, much as there is an association between the emergency services and motorway pileups, and for exactly the same reason: it’s there to repair the injuries. Using drugs to lower cholesterol levels is like shooting paramedics in order to save lives. Listen up, NHS: you’ve got it all wrong.

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Shawshank said on 14 September 2010

Coming here, I'm glad I'm not the only one who is appaled by this article. Being told information that is potentially dangerous to health, I can only hope more people read around and learn for themselves about the real facts about food and don't take the word of outdated and false myths. It's simple when you go back to basics and look at what we are actually evolved to consume, it makes a mockery of this misinformation. It's no wonder we have an obesity epidemic and increasing rates of disease in this country when we are being fed rubbish like this.

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Roshambo said on 26 June 2010

I'm also in agreement with mikes1990 and Ginerva. The conventional wisdom that dietary fat leads to heart disease has been based on some very dodgey science. Gary Taubes' book 'The Diet Delusion' (in the US, 'Good Calories, Bad Calories') exposes this quite completely.

If one read the "China Study", it also may be an idea to read the critiques of the study which highlight its shortcomings. The debate between Dr Loren Cordain (author of 'The Paleo Diet') and Dr Campbell (autho)r of the China Study) is particularly enlightening.

http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study.html

http://crossfitbirmingham.ning.com/forum/attachment/download?id=1972595%3AUploadedFi58%3A26057


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Roshambo said on 26 June 2010

I'm also in agreement with mikes1990 and Ginerva. The conventional wisdom that dietary fat leads to heart disease has been based on some very dodgey science. Gary Taubes' book 'The Diet Delusion' (in the US, 'Good Calories, Bad Calories') exposes this quite completely.

If one read the "China Study", it also may be an idea to read the critiques of the study which highlight its shortcomings. The debate between Dr Loren Cordain (author of 'The Paleo Diet') and Dr Campbell (autho)r of the China Study) is particularly enlightening.

http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study.html

http://crossfitbirmingham.ning.com/forum/attachment/download?id=1972595%3AUploadedFi58%3A26057


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gbogey said on 26 April 2010

Seriously mike1990... "Focus on promoting a lower polyunsaturated and man-made trans fat diet." Was that a typo?? You suggest the UK population reduce it's polyunsaturated fat intake? If your intention is to increase the amount of CHD is this country then you are on the right track Mike1990.

I don't see anything noticeably wrong with the main article. Maybe more emphasis could be made on eliminating animal product consumption altogether - but with the state of this carnivorous nation that is not so practical.

mike1990 and Ginevra, you seem to be residing in a different plain of existence. I would take a calculated guess and say that neither of you are scientists... certainly not scientists in the area of nutrition anyway. If you had have been more constructive and less flaming in your approach then maybe you could have been taken seriously.

There may be flaws in much of the research done to ascertain WHY high saturated fat diets are related to CHD but there has been no sound evidence to suggest that high saturated fat consumption is not related to CHD.


There has been a known link between high SFA diets and CHD for decades. It may be an idea to read through the "China study". We have not evolved so much in the past few decades to make all that research irrelevant :P

Also, take a look at the recent research done in Harvard university and then maybe you can make some better contributions to this page. We KNOW that high SFA diets are related to CHD and therefore the main article is about how to reduce the risk. I agree that there are better approaches to healthier eating than are suggested by the article, however, that does not mean that the information does not have merit.

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Reluctant runner said on 15 March 2010

You can find information on trans fats on the FSA website:
http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/fss/fats/transfats/

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Ginevra said on 12 March 2010

I totally agree with Mikes1990's comment. I am appalled that our National Health Service still has the arrogance and ignorance to ignore vast amounts of evidence to the contrary, while still advising people in the same old dietary fallacies.
High fat intake is not the culprit - a decrease in carbohydrate consumption and increase in fat consumption has been proven many times over by dedicated research to actually raise HDL levels.
I can say this categorically, first of all because, unlike NHS, I have done my own reading and, most importantly, because I have 'walked the walk' - 18 months ago I decided to cut carb intake, and increase fat consumption, with the result that I am now 16 lbs lighter, and most importantly of all, my HDL level has risen from 1.6 to 2.1. I may add that I am 71 years of age, and have more energy than many of my peers.
It is the role of the NHS to advise on all dietary choices, not to trot out the tired old inaccuracies, so please - enough - and get your prejudices cleaned out, so that we can all find an alternative and effective way out of this obesity epidemic.

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mikes1990 said on 06 March 2010

I can't believe you're still advocating a low saturated fat approach to diet. We have evolved over thousands of years to eat fatty meats. Whilst saturated fat may increase total cholesterol, this is not a bad thing, and it also improves HDL:LDL ratio, which is far more important that total cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a good thing, as it assists in repairing cell damage, hormone production, vitamin d synthesis and a host of other things.
The whole "saturated fat causes heart disease" arguement is pure nonsense.
Saturated fat is far better for cooking with than unsaturated fats, due to the more stable nature of fats, meaning they do not go rancid/ turn to trans fats when heated.
Please stop advocating that people reduce saturated fat intake! It is completely unecessary, and may do more harm than good. Focus on promoting a lower polyunsaturated and man-made trans fat diet.

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BristolEd said on 25 February 2010

So where's the information about trans / hydrogenated fats - which have already been banned on health grounds in some parts of the world?

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nutrition_facts said on 25 January 2010

The definition of "low fat" is incorrect. Low fat on a food label means the food contains 3g or less of total fat per 100g.

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josephmizzi said on 07 October 2009

My blood cholesterol was > 7 and my weight 100kg; after 6 months of healthy eating (low saturated fats, unrefined grains, veg and fruit), the cholesterol dropped to 3.5 mmol, and the weight to 73 kg. After another one year, I still weigh 73 kg and the cholesterol level is even lower. I feel great.

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GayleHoney said on 15 March 2009

The diet questionnaire was not very useful. None of the choices reflected my actual diet. For example, the only bread option for bkfast is white bread. When I ticked that, I was advised to eat w/meal - which I do! None of the options is what I would have for lunch, and I almost never have takeaways.

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Penny said on 29 June 2008

Very useful - I thought all fat was bad - have been eating a lot more than necessary through ignorance.

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