Simple swaps to reduce saturated fat

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Ever wondered which is better: butter or margarine? Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Full-cream or low-fat dairy? We’ve sized up the saturated fat content to reveal which are the healthiest.

Swapping foods high in saturated fat for healthier options is a simple way to reduce your heart disease risk and improve your diabetes management.

You may know that saturated fat in food is the type that raises LDL- cholesterol levels in your blood. This ‘bad’ cholesterol deposits in your arteries, and over time, can lead to a blockage and raise your risk of heart disease.

This is why 24 grams (or less!) is the amount of saturated fat recommended to Aussie adults each day for a healthy heart.

What many people don’t realise, is that saturated fat in your diet makes it harder for insulin to work in your body, affecting your fasting and after-meal blood glucose levels.

Here are some easy ways to get skim your sat fat:

Butter or margarine?

Many prefer butter over margarine because it is considered ‘less processed’ and more ‘natural’. Monounsaturated margarine is much lower in saturated fat and easier to spread than butter, making it a healthier pick to use in small amounts.

Nutritional info per serving (10g)


Energy (kJ) 304kJ
Saturated Fat (g) 5.0


Energy (kJ) 245kJ
Saturated Fat (g) 1.5


Energy (kJ) 171kJ
Saturated Fat (g) 1.0

Verdict: With only one gram of saturated fat and the lowest kilojoules for double the amount, a thick spread of mashed avocado offers an even better natural alternative.

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Dark chocolate is often sprouted as a healthier choice because of the natural antioxidants in cocoa. The darker the chocolate though, the higher the saturated fat, and row for row comparisons between milk and dark reveal much of a muchness!

Nutritional info per serving (1 row, 25g)

Cadbury Old Gold Original

Energy (kJ) 545kJ
Saturated Fat (g) 4.7
Carb exchanges 1

Cadbury Old Gold 70% Cocoa

Energy (kJ) 570kJ
Saturated Fat (g) 6.5
Carb exchanges 1/2

Cadbury Dairy Milk

Energy (kJ) 560kJ
Saturated Fat (g) 4.7
Carb exchanges 1

Verdict: For heart healthy antioxidants, stick to your daily recommended two serves of fruit and five serves of veg.  Enjoying one row of chocolate every now and then is much healthier than overeating chocolate on most days. Savouring each piece is shown to be more satisfying, so enjoy each square melt in your mouth.

Full-cream or low-fat dairy?

Daily staples like milk, yoghurt and cheese can easily see your daily saturated fat intake creep up, but low-fat has been getting a bad rap in the media for having extra hidden sugars or salt. It is true some low-fat yoghurt, custard, ice cream and cheese contain added sugars or salt to improve their flavour, but what the media don’t point out, is plain milk and natural yoghurt often do not.

Nutritional info per serving (250 ml)

Energy (kJ) 738kJ
Total Fat (g) 8.8
Saturated Fat (g) 6.3
Protein (g) 8.8
Carb exchanges 1
Calcium (mg) 270

250ml low fat milk

Energy (kJ) 538kJ
Total Fat (g) 2.5
Saturated Fat (g) 5.0
Protein (g) 10
Carb exchanges 1
Calcium (mg) 275

250ml skim milk

Energy (kJ) 375kJ
Total Fat (g) 0.3
Saturated Fat (g) 0.3
Protein (g) 9
Carb exchanges 1
Calcium (mg) 300

Verdict: For ice cream, custard and yoghurt, compare brands to find low-fat dairy products with the least added sugar.

Reduced-fat milks and plain yoghurts are a great way to skim your saturated fat intake and kilojoules, without compromising on nutrition. One glass of soy milk has only one gram of saturated fat, and comparable nutrition, making it a heart healthy alternative.

This advice may not suit everyone’s tastes or nutritional needs, so remember to speak with your Accredited Practising Dietitian to work out what is best for you.

To speak with an Accredited Practising Dietitian phone the Infoline: 1300 342 238


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