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Saturated fat or fiction.

Are you eating too much saturated fat? We have known for decades that too much is a risk factor for heart problems. Yet recent research suggests it is not clear cut. Earlier this year, a review paper of 72 studies looked into the link between cardiovascular health and saturated fat. Despite the fact they concluded no significant link between the two, more research is needed, hence, saturated fat should continue to be limited in the fight against heart disease.


Most foods high in saturated fat occur in animal products such as red meat, butter and cheese. Levels are also high in foods such as biscuits and cakes. Excessive intake of these foods can raise blood cholesterol levels, resulting in increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Additionally, these foods are high in calories, increasing risk of obesity and associated health problems. An average sized man and woman should not consume more than 30g and 20g of saturated fat per day respectively.

Foods containing 10g fat per portion.

  • 50g 1 pint of whole milk

  • 20g of butter

  • 60g of chocolate

  • 2 large sausages

  • 4 shortbread biscuits

  • 110g sirloin steak


For optimal heart health try these changes:

There are lots of positive things you can do and eat to improve heart health. We should focus on foods to include in our diet rather than those that are the worst offenders. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables (5 a day or more), beans and lentils, whole grains, unsaturated oils and fish should keep saturated fat consumption low. This, alongside exercise will reduce risk of heart problems. All fat contains more calories than protein or carbs, so if you struggle with your weight, keeping saturated fat low is an added bonus. Remember, healthy eating can be fun and regular exercise can bring you enjoyment. Positive changes in your diet will strengthen your well-being and most importantly your heart!

  • Choose lean cuts of meat

  • Try two portions a week of fish, one being oily (e.g. salmon/trout).

  • Read labels - high saturated fat is considered more than 5g per 100g.

  • Switch to low fat dairy products - reduced fat cheeses, low fat yogurts & semi-skimmed milk. Low fat crème fraiche is a great swap for cream.

  • Bake, stream or poach – don’t fry.

  • Choose healthier treats, swapping biscuits for nuts or dried fruit.

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