Get clued up on fats

Confused or worried about fats? We hear you! But they might not be as complicated as you thought. All you have to know is how to sort the good guys from the bad…
Published 18 August, 2023

When you’re trying to get healthy, low-fat foods are a must, right? That’s what we were told for decades, but research suggests that fat, as a food group, has been misunderstood.

Fat is a necessary part of a healthy diet – it’s needed for absorption of fat-soluble vitamin A, D, E and K.

All fats are high in energy, but not all are created equal. Some are important for brain function and others can harm the heart. So for a healthy mind, body (and waistline), here’s the lowdown on two types of fats – saturated and unsaturated.

Unsaturated fats

These help form the building blocks of our brain and nerves, keep our heart healthy thanks to essential omega-3 fatty acids, and help the body absorb vitamins A, D and E. Good sources include:

• Oil-rich fish such as mackerel

• Avocados

• Nuts, including almond, brazil and peanuts

• Olive, rapeseed, sesame and sunflower oils

Saturated fats

Unlike unsaturated fats, the saturated form is not required by the body. Eating too much of it has been linked to some types of cancer, stroke and unhealthy levels of LDL cholesterol, which is the kind that can increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Saturated fats are found in:

• Animal products such as meat, butter, ghee, cheese, and cream

• Processed foods such as crisps and biscuits

• Some plant foods including coconut and palm oils

Make a change

Over two typical days, note foods you eat which contain saturated fat and think where you could make a swap for unsaturated fat, such as using avocado instead of butter. Keep a note of the SmartPoints you’ll save doing so.

Because of their health benefit, unsaturated fats are lower in Points. For example: 1 tsp olive oil = 2 Points, while 1 tsp coconut oil = 3 Points. Swapping saturated for unsaturated fat could benefit your health, and your Budget!