Is saturated fat bad for me?

Eating a lot of saturated fat can increase the levels of cholesterol in your blood. Having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease, which includes heart attack and arrowed arteries (atherosclerosis)

Cholesterol is a fatty substance made by your liver and carried around the body in the blood. The fats in food you eat can affect the levels of cholesterol in your blood.

Is all fat bad for me?

Your body needs small amounts of fat to help it work normally. However, some types of fat are healthier than others. There are two main types of fats in food:

  • saturated fat
  • unsaturated fat

It’s a good idea to eat less saturated fat, or swap foods high in saturated fat for small amounts of foods containing unsaturated fats, to reduce the health risks linked with high cholesterol levels.

Which foods contain saturated fat?

Foods that are high in saturated fat include:

  • butter, lard and ghee (oil made from butter)
  • fatty meats and meat products, such as sausages and pies
  • full fat milk
  • cream, sour cream, crème fraîche and ice cream
  • cheese, particularly hard cheese
  • some savoury snacks, such as pork scratchings
  • coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil
  • biscuits, cakes and pastries
  • chocolates and some sweets 

Eating less saturated fat

If you eat lots of foods high in saturated fat, it’s a good idea to eat them less often or have smaller amounts of them.

Below are some tips to help you include less fat and less fatty foods in your diet

  • choose lean meat or skinless poultry instead of fatty meat or meat products
  • trim the visible fat off meat before you cook it
  • grill meat or cook it slowly in the oven instead of frying it
  • choose lower fat dairy products such as 1% fat or skimmed milk, low fat plain yoghurt or reduced fat cheese

You can also compare nutrition labels to help you choose foods that are lower in saturated fat. Read loads more information on how to cut down the amount of saturated fat in your diet. 

Further information:


Fat: the facts

In this video, learn about different types of fats, which ones are considered good or bad fats and how to identify them when shopping in the supermarket.

Media last reviewed:

Next review due:

Page last reviewed: 17/07/2015

Next review due: 16/07/2017