Different Types of Fat [video]

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Video Transcript
Toxic Waist: The risks of eating excess fats

Dr. Derrick Cutting, General Practitioner: The average Briton gets 40% of calories from fat. Now, that doesn't mean that 40% of what you eat is fat because fat is energy-dense. A little fat gives a lot of energy. The important thing to know about fat is that it's not all the same.

Put simply, there are two types of fat in your food - saturated fat, which is the worst kind, and unsaturated fat. No food is ever exclusively one type of fat. There's always a combination of different types of fat. For example, olive oil--which is often recommended as a healthier option--has a saturated-fat level of about 14%. It's 81% unsaturated fat. Its low level of saturated fat makes it a healthier option than, say, coconut oil, which is 86% saturated fat. Unfortunately, it still has a lot of calories which can lead to weight gain.

Now, saturated fat stimulates your liver to produce cholesterol which gets into your blood and can lead to coronary heart disease. It usually comes from animal products--like meat or dairy--but can also be found in coconut and palm oils. Lowering your intake of saturated fat helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your body. But it's not just a case of swapping one type of fat for another. Although saturated fat pushes up your cholesterol, eating too much of any fatty food will lead to weight gain which can eventually cause problems like diabetes.

Now, a lot of people ask me how to balance their fat intake. I generally tell them to try to shift the focus of their diet away from high-fat foods and especially those foods with high levels of saturated fat. They might start using skimmed milk and cut right back on high-fat dairy products like cream and cheese. Eating leaner cuts of meat and avoiding high-fat foods--like bacon, sausages and duck--can reduce fat intake.

I also advise people to cut back on the amount of oil they use and stick to olive oil or rapeseed oil. And you can reduce your cholesterol further by changing from butter to Flora pro.activ or Benecol. If you're serious about reducing the amount of fat in your diet, you don't have to give up all the things you love and eat lettuce for the rest of your life. You just need to eat a properly-balanced diet, avoiding foods high in saturated fat and favoring foods that supply more friendly fats.

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