The main types and sources of fat in the UK diet are:
1. Saturated fat: found in animal fats (meat, full fat dairy products), coconut and palm oil, processed foods. High intakes of saturated fats are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
2. Unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil, nuts and avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (found in most plant oils (rapeseed oil, sunflower oil), oily fish, nuts, seeds and spreads). These types of fat have been proven to maintain the level of 'good' cholesterol in our blood.
How much fat should I consume?
Current UK guidelines suggest we should be getting no more than 35% of our total daily energy intake from fat, and no more than 11% of energy from saturated fat. For men this is no more than 95g total fat/day and 30g saturated fat/day and for women 70g total fat/day and 20g saturated fat/day.
Which fat should I choose for cooking?
It all depends on what you are using it for as all oils have different smoke points. Oils that have higher smoke points are more stable at high temperatures. However you should remember that all fats, regardless of whether they are the 'healthier' unsaturated fats, are high in energy (calories) and should be used sparingly. See the table below for a review of fat types and their cooking uses.