The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

It’s a good idea to watch the fat in our diets, especially saturates – but that doesn’t mean all fat is bad

WE NEED FAT. ‘It comes packaged with fat-soluble nutrients – namely vitamins A, D, E and K,’ explains HFG nutritionist Amanda Ursell. ‘It’s also a valuable source of energy and provides the essential fatty acids our bodies can’t make on their own. Plus, fat carries flavour, makes foods more palatable and increases satiety. So a diet that includes some fat is more likely to succeed in the long-term, because it’s more interesting and pleasurable than a very low-fat existence.’

Furthermore, there’s also good evidence that fat helps our bodies to absorb carotenoid antioxidants such as lycopene in tomatoes, beta-carotene in carrots and lutein and zeaxanthin in green leafy veg.

Foods with 20g or more per 100g are considered high fat


How much is too much?

According to the NHS, the average woman should eat no more than 70g fat a day, and the average man no more than 95g. Reading the nutrition label on foods can help you stick within the limits. Foods with 20g or more per 100g are considered high fat and may display a red traffic light. Foods with 3g or less are considered low fat or may show a green traffic light. Many food labels also show the saturated fat content – those containing more than 5g saturates per 100g are high in fat and red. Those with 1.5g or less are low and green (amber is in between).

Looking for traffic light colours is generally more useful than reading packaging claims such as ‘lower-fat’ or ‘reduced fat’. These terms mean that while the product must be at least 30% lower in fat than the standard version, it could still be a high-fat food, as is often the case for mayonnaise or cheese.