Figuring out Fats

There are four types of fats commonly found in a New Zealand diet:  

Saturated fats
If consumed excessively, these fats can lead to blocked arteries, heart problems and raised cholesterol; hence are referred to as ‘bad’ fats.  You’ll find them in fried foods, cakes, pastries, butter, meat, dairy products, palm and coconut oil.  You should limit your saturated fat intake. 

Trans fats
Trans fats (another ‘bad’ fat) increase cholesterol and can damage your arteries and heart hence why intake should be restricted.  You’ll find them in manufactured foods – cakes, biscuits, crackers, some margarines but also meat, dairy products and deep-fried foods. 

Monounsaturated fats
Unlike saturated and trans fats, monounsaturated fats (‘good’ fats) can be beneficial to your heart health by bringing down your cholesterol.  Olives, olive oil, peanuts, avocadoes, most nuts and some fish are valuable sources.

Polyunsaturated fats
These fats have a positive effect on your health, especially your heart but also brain function and arthritis, and are therefore considered ‘good’ fats. They include omega-3 and omega-6 fats which you will find in fish, fish oils, seafood, nuts, grains and seeds (especially linseed, safflower and sesame).

Cutting back on fat….
Surprisingly, we all need some fat in our diet.  It provides us with fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and insulates us during the colder months.  Most New Zealanders consume far too much fat and as it’s a very rich energy source and high in kilojoules it can take a long time to burn off.  Reducing the amount of fat in your diet is beneficial for long-term health and short-term weight loss.  Reduce fat intake by:

  • Always trimming visible fat from meat.
  • Removing the skin from chicken.
  • Where possible, purchase low-fat or reduced-fat varieties of foods (for example dressings, mayonnaises, dairy products and pre-prepared meals).
  • Replace butter and margarine on sandwiches with chutney, avocado, relish or mustard. 
  • Use evaporated milk as a replacement to cream in meals and desserts.
  • Choosing tomato and vegetable based pasta and curry meals rather than cream based dishes.

Random Quotes

“Thank you very much for giving us an opportunity to be part of the Food for Thought Programme. We really appreciate your effort in educating the children and in creating an awareness about healthy eating.”

Harini Karan, Viscount School, Mangere, Auckland.