Saturated Fats: Are they healthy or not?

November 11, 2013 BY: LISA

Saturated fats: Are they harmful or not?

In the media of recent times there have been a number of startling claims made about what we know and what we don’t know about preventing heart disease and what the role of saturated fat is in the prevention of high cholesterol.

There are a lot of people questioning the recent ABC Catalyst program as the information they presented on the program was thought to be one sided and not entirely based on fact and yet if you watched it no doubt you are even more confused.

Since this presentation went to air the National Heart Foundation are encouraging dietitian’s to inform their clients that to date the evidence is still very much showing that saturated fats are responsible for increasing cholesterol and therefore have a role in heart disease. It goes on to suggest that decreasing saturated fats and partially replacing them with unsaturated fats is the best for your health.

This information is backed up by a recent Cochrane review “…. Lifestyle advice to all those at risk of cardiovascular disease and to lower risk population groups, should continue to include permanent reduction of dietary saturated fat and partial replacement by unsaturates.”

In case you were unsure of what a Cochrane Review is: “Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.”

Here’s a breakdown of the different sources of dietary fat:

Saturated Fats Unsaturated Fats
Fatty meats- salami, strasburg, sausages Vegetable based oils
Fat on meat and skin on chicken Margarine
Commercial cakes, biscuits, pies and pastries Nuts
Fast foods Avocado
Cheese and other full fat dairy products Olives
Coconut oil and products Seeds
Butter Fish

Five quick tips to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet:

1. Swap full fat dairy foods for reduced, low or no fat dairy foods for all family members more than two years old. You will remove 4 kg of saturated fat from your diet in a year if you do this with 1 cup of milk, two slices of cheese and a small tub of yoghurt a day. You can remove even more by choosing no fat foods.

2. Swap butter for a margarine spread made from canola, sunflower, olive or dairy blends. Just doing this with your morning toast and sandwiches at lunch will remove 2.85 kg of saturated fat from your diet in one year.

3. Cut the fat. Trim all visible fat from meat, remove skin from chicken and try to avoid processed meat (e.g. sausages and salami) unless it has the Heart Foundation Tick.

4. Eat two to three serves of oily fish a week. A serve of fish is 150 g, which is about the size of your whole hand. Add fish oil capsules and omega-3 enriched foods and drinks to your diet if you’re not eating enough oily fish.

5. Choose healthier treats. Cakes, pastries and biscuits are one of the main sources of saturated fat in our diets. Raisin bread, Tick approved cereal and nut bars, or Tick approved sweet biscuits are healthier options. Limit pastries, pizza, fried fish, hamburgers, hot chips and creamy pasta to once a week.

Healthy heart tip

Lean meat can be more expensive but you can save money by bulking out meaty dishes like casseroles by adding vegetables, lentils or beans

Here’s some clarification on the Healthy Fats:

Monounsaturated fat is found in foods such as avocados, almonds, cashews, peanuts and cooking oils made from plants or seeds such as sunflower, canola, soybean, olive, sesame and peanut oils.

Avocado and nuts can be added to salads and a handful of unsalted nuts make a healthy snack any time of the day. Try a handful of almonds sprinkled over breakfast cereal.

Polyunsaturated fat (omega-6) is found in foods such as fish, tahini (sesame seed spread), margarine, linseed (flaxseed), sunflower and safflower oil, pine nuts and brazil nuts.

  • Tahini can be used as a spread on crackers instead of butter or used as a base for dips, sauces and stews
  • Choose margarine made from sunflower and safflower oils, and use instead of butter on sandwiches and toast
  • Sprinkle ground linseed on breakfast cereal or choose wholegrain bread with linseeds.
    Add pine nuts or sesame seeds to salads or sprinkle over vegetables.

Polyunsaturated fat (omega-3s) is found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines and blue mackerel as well as walnuts and linseeds.

We recommend eating two or three serves (150 grams per serve) of oily fish every week. Walnuts and ground linseeds can be added to stir fries or sprinkled on breakfast cereal.

Trans Fats:

If you are wondering about the role of trans fats in heart disease the following link has a great explanation.  Basically the amount of trans fat in the Australian diet is quite low in comparison to the rest of the world so trans fats are not as big a concern as saturated fats. Our margarine is made from a different process now so the levels of trans fats in margarine are actually lower than those naturally occurring in butter.

Remember that all fats do increase weight but  unsaturated fats are definitely part of a healthy diet.


Lisa APD




All enquiries, Lisa 0413 956 107 Appointments 1300 725 806
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