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There are two basic kinds of fatty acids: saturated and unsaturated. Eating a diet rich in saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol level and increase your risk of heart disease. So eating less is important for heart health.

Butter, lard, ghee, palm oil and coconut oil contain a high proportion of saturated fat. Other foods with a relatively high saturated fat content include cakes, chocolate, biscuits, pies and pastries. The white fat you see on red meat and underneath poultry skin is also high in saturated fat.

Reducing saturated fat and replacing some of it with unsaturated fat may be good for your heart.

Vegetable oils (such as rapeseed, olive, sunflower, soya, sesame oils) and fat spreads made from these oils are a healthier alternative to saturated fats. These are high in unsaturated fatty acids. Oily fish, including mackerel, sardines, pilchards and salmon, contain unsaturated fatty acids called omega-3s, which can also benefit heart health.

Where possible, cut back on saturated fat and opt for small amounts of foods containing unsaturated fats instead.

It’s easy to make small changes to cut back on saturated fat. Here’s some examples of simple swaps you can make to reduce the amount of saturated fat you consume:

Swap To
Chicken with skin Chicken without skin
Regular cheddar Reduced fat cheddar
Butter Reduced fat spread
Chocolate biscuit Plain biscuit
Regular mince Lean or extra lean mince
Whole milk Semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk

Remember the recommended maximum daily amount of saturated fat in the diet is 20g for women and 30g for men.

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