Facts about fats

You will find plenty of conflicting articles in the media about fats so I thought I would dispel a few myths here!

You do need to have some fat in your diet but the amount you have depends on the type of fats they are. The two main types of fat are saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fat is further broken down into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

You might have heard of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats? Well they are polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats

These are the fats that we should only eat a small amount of. However, a balanced diet is key and a nutritional therapist will recommend not cutting these out of your diet completely. You will be pleased to hear this as saturated fat is found in the foods that most people enjoy, like red meat, dairy foods (like ice cream, cheese, yoghurt, cream, butter), chocolate, cakes and biscuits! Nuts also contain some saturated fats - see tips below.

Unsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats - These are found in olives, olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados and peanuts. You should include these foods in your diet regularly.

Polyunsaturated fats - Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats are important for the healthy function of your heart. Omega 3 fats have also been linked to reducing inflammation in the body (and many diseases have been linked with inflammation as a contributing factor).

Again, these foods should be included in your diet regularly. Omega 6 fats are found in nuts and seeds, while Omega 3 fats are found in oily fish (like mackerel, salmon and sardines) and also walnuts.

Tips to take away 

  • Have some red meat up to a couple of times a week and a small portion of cheese or yoghurt when you fancy them is fine - as long as it’s not huge amounts every day. Keep the chocolate, cakes and biscuits to occasional treats.
  • I don’t recommend low-fat or zero fat products as they often contain lots of sugar instead, so if you are trying to lose weight, that won’t help.
  • Nuts contain both saturated and unsaturated fats (as well as loads of other really useful nutrients) so you should include them within your diet but in small amounts e.g. four or five nuts a day rather than a whole bag!
  • Mixed seeds can be a bit boring on their own but are nice when stirred into something like cereal or yoghurt. 
  • There are lots of different nut butters available now which are a useful snack on toast or crackers.
  • Tinned salmon, sardines or mackerel are an easy and cheap way to eat more oily fish.
  • Mashed up avocado with some black pepper on toast or crackers is a quick and easy snack.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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