Which fats can make you healthy?

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1. How much fat should I eat?

Did you know that all food contains some fat – even carrots and lettuce contain tiny amounts! But does conflicting advice about which fatty foods you should eat have you confused?

Fat was demonised in the 70s, when a low-fat diet ethos was widely adopted. Today, however, fat is back on the menu, with many experts arguing a diet containing lots of fat is better for you than a diet full of processed foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.

However, this is not a licence to gorge on fat-laden foods. In the UK most people eat about 20% more fat than they should each day. Overall, you should eat 70g of fat each day. Men should only eat 30g of saturated fat, and women 20g, health experts say. But which fats are best?

2. Breakfast

Toast: Butter v spread

Butter is about 80% saturated fat, or 30kcal per teaspoon, and this high fat content meant that in the past people were actively encouraged to use lower-fat spreads instead.

Saturated fat is made up of saturated fatty acids, which are thought to pack tightly together in your bloodstream and increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.

But currently experts are arguing that replacing high fat foods like butter with more processed, sugar-laden foods has actually been worse for our waistlines. Butter is now also thought to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, at the same time and is a good source of vitamins A, D and E.

Meanwhile, the average saturated fat content of a spread is about 60%. It contains fewer calories than butter – about 21kcal teaspoon. One myth surrounding spreads sold in the UK is that they contain high amounts of trans fats, made when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation.

Trans fats can raise bad LDL cholesterol levels and actually suppress the production of HDL, or good cholesterol.

But in recent years spreads sold in the UK have been reformulated and now contain no or minimal amounts of trans fats, according to the British Nutrition Foundation.

Some nutritionists believe spreads with high polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are generally plant-based – for instance, olive oil – are the best for your health.

3. Snack: Avocado v sausage roll

Avocado v sausage roll

4. Sandwich: Peanut butter v cheese

Click on the image to find the lowest-fat food.

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5. Dinner: Salmon v chicken (skin on)

Salmon v chicken (skin on)

6. Dessert: Coconut v double cream

Click on the labels to see which food is the highest in saturated fat.

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7. Which other fats should you be eating?

Click on the labels to uncover why these foods are so good for you.

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