Most of us should eat less of foods from this group!
These foods can be eaten in small amounts as part of a healthy, varied diet. Foods such as cakes, pastries, biscuits, chocolate, crisps, fried foods and non-diet fizzy drinks should be considered as treats and only eaten occasionally.
- For oils, spreads, low-fat spreads and butters, use sparingly, especially if eaten every day. Some types are particularly high in saturated fat, for example butter, coconut milk/cream and palm oil.
- Limit the amount of fat, oil and cream you add to foods because this can add a lot of extra calories.
The following foods are high in fat:
- Margarine, butter and other spreading fats including reduced fat spreads (although these contain less fat and calories they should still only be used in small amounts)
- Cooking oils and oil-based salad dressings
- Fried foods including fried chips
- Chocolate, some crisps and biscuits (check the nutrition labels)
- Pastries, cakes, puddings and ice-cream
The following foods are high in sugar:
- Soft drinks (not diet drinks)
- Sugar, honey
- Cakes, puddings, biscuits, pastries and ice-cream.
Fats and Oils
We need a small amount of fat in our diets to provide essential fatty acids (those the body cannot make itself) and to help us absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. There are two types of essential fats, which must be supplied by the diet in small amounts: omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish but also present in smaller amounts in food such as walnuts, eggs, and in rapeseed and soya oil and spreads made from them) and omega-6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn and soya oil, and spreads made from these). Although we need some fat, foods containing a lot of fat will be high in calories, making it easy to consume more calories than you need.
The type of fat in the diet is important, as well as the amount. In the UK we need to reduce our intake of saturated fat that is found in particular in butter, cream, coconut cream, palm oil, some processed and fatty cuts of meat, cakes and pastries. Saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is important not to eat too much. On average, a woman should eat no more than 20 g per day and a man no more than 30 g each day. For more information on saturated fat and heart disease, click here.
The saturated fat pledge, part of the Department of Health’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, aims to reduce the population average saturated fat intake from 12.7% to 11% of calorie intake. The aim is to achieve this through product/menu reformulation, reviewing portion sizes, and educating and encouraging consumers to choose healthier options. The Responsibility Deal is a voluntary scheme involving many food and drink manufacturers, retailers, caterers and other organisations.
Tips to cut down on fat and saturated fat:
Foods high in sugar
On average, children and adults in the UK eat too much added sugar, found in sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, and non-diet fizzy drinks, alcoholic drinks and juice drinks.
Sugar adds flavour and sweetness to foods, but frequent consumption of sugar-containing foods and drinks is associated with an increased risk of tooth decay especially in those with poor dental hygiene.
Tips to cut down on sugar
BNF have developed a resource that can be downloaded, see attachment below.
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Last reviewed February 2014. Next review due February 2017.