Fat

British Nutrition Foundation

We aim to give people access to reliable science-based information to support anyone on their journey towards a healthy, sustainable diet. In this section you can read about fats and oils in the diet and how they our affect health.

Quick facts on fat

  • Fats are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. The provide essential fatty acids and carry the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Fats are the richest source of calories in our diets, all types of fat provide 9kcal per gram, compared with carbohydrate and protein (both 4kcal per gram). High-fat foods contain a lot of calories.
  • Fats can be divided into saturated and unsaturated types. Foods usually contain a mixture of the two, but we talk about the kind they contain most of, for example butter contains mostly saturated fat.
  • Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature because of their chemical structure. Foods high in saturated fats include fatty cuts of meat, full fat dairy products including cheese and cream, butter, coconut and palm oil, cakes, biscuits, pastries and chocolate.
  • Unsaturated fats can be monounsaturated (such as in olive oils and nuts) or polyunsaturated (such as in vegetable oils and spreads). These are liquid at room temperature and mostly come from plant sources such as rapeseed, olives, nuts and seeds.
  • Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat. The long chain omega 3s that seem to be particularly good for our health are mainly found in oily fish (like salmon and mackerel) and are also found in eggs and meat. We can also get shorter chain omega 3s from vegetable oils and some types of nuts.
  • Although there is a lot of debate about the health effects of fats in the diet, overall, the totality of scientific evidence shows that replacing saturated with unsaturated fats in the diet can help reduce our blood cholesterol. High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • We can reduce saturated fat in the diet by choosing lean cuts of meat and limiting foods like pastries, cakes and biscuits, butter, cream and coconut oil. You can replace saturated with unsaturated fats by swapping butter for vegetable or olive oils or spreads.
  • Healthy dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean or Nordic diets are low in saturated fat but also higher in fibre, fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and unsaturated fats from nuts, oily fish and vegetable or olive oils. They also limit red and processed meat as well as refined carbohydrates and foods high in salt.

Useful resources

Cancer Focus NI can provide a wide range of presentations to meet the needs of your...
This course is for midwives and aims to explain the science behind the different types of...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
Do you want to eat in a way that helps you reach your ideal weight, gives you boundless...
This course will provide you with the basic nutrition knowledge and practical tools...
Taste Buds is a resource that helps children aged 8 to 11 enjoy learning about the...
The Quick Fit programme offers positive steps to improve your health through diet and...
This course is aimed at pharmacists and aims to explain the science behind the different...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course will provide you with the basic knowledge to help you adopt a healthier and...
Your Work Ready dietitian will visit your organisation. They will ask what you want, see...
Are you often too tired to cook? Not organised enough to have breakfast and lunch sorted...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course would be of particular use to health professionals and students wanting to...
We will enrich your events with food demos, health and nutrition check-ups, competitions...
Here at Vital Nutrition, we work with schools all over Northern Ireland to help inspire...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
Vital Nutrition offers a complete range of corporate health and workplace wellbeing...
This course provides caterers, food service providers and catering students with the...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
MediaWise is a FREE media literacy resource, designed by primary school teachers and...
Certified by the AfN. This course is for those who already have a basic knowledge of...
Fun, fast food for less. This is a practical six-week nutrition programme aimed at...
This course is aimed at practice nurses and aims to explain the science behind the...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course is about eating well and keeping healthy if you’re staying at home more since...
Your dietitian will look at any food and drink provision for staff including: canteen or...
Cancer Focus NI, Keeping Well vans are mobile drop-in units which bring health checks,...
Vital Nutrition’s Healthy Shift Workers workshop provides employees with a practical plan...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
This course will provide you with some information about sport and exercise nutrition –...
BDA will enrich your events with food demos, health and nutrition check-ups, competitions...
Vital Nutrition’s Jane McClenaghan is known for her down-to-earth, practical approach to...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
Fat is an essential nutrient in our diet but may often be thought about negatively and...
We will enrich your events with food demos, health and nutrition check-ups, competitions...
Vital Nutrition specialises in developing bespoke, tailor made nutritional programmes to...
Certified by the AfN. This course is for those with an interest in nutrition and would be...
Nutrition scanner
Develop healthier eating habits, be more active, and get on track to start losing weight...
Our free Easy Meals app is a great way to eat foods that are healthier for you. You’ll...
Food diary, exercise tracker and diet coach
Use this calculator to check your body mass index (BMI) and find out if you are a healthy weight. Or, use it to check your child's BMI centile.