Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A Low Fat and Healthy Diet

A diet that is generally low fat and healthy can help you to lose weight, or maintain your weight. It can also help to you to lower your cholesterol level.

Example of a diet sheet

Food Type

Foods that can be eaten regularly (little or no fat and/or 'healthy' foods)

Foods to be eaten in moderation

Foods to avoid or to eat rarely (high in fat and/or 'unhealthy' foods)

Cereal foods
Wholemeal flour and bread
Porridge oats
High fibre breakfast cereals
Wholegrain rice and pasta

White flour and bread
Low fibre breakfast cereals
White rice and pasta
Plain biscuits
Plain or fruit scones

Fried bread
Most cakes and biscuits
Suet pudding

Fruit, Veg and Nuts

All fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit
Dried beans and lentils
Baked potatoes
Dried fruit

Oven chips
Avocado pears

Fried or roast potatoes
Fried, creamed, buttered or cheesed vegetables
Crisps and potato snacks
Roasted peanuts


All white fish
Oily fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, kippers, pilchards, or salmon (not tinned in oil)




Lean white meat such as chicken and turkey breast (without skin)

Lean ham, beef, pork, and lamb
Lean mince
Liver and kidney

Visible fat on meat
Duck, goose
Meat pies/pasties

Eggs, Dairy Foods

Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
Cottage or curd cheese
Low fat yoghurt
Egg whites

Up to 3 egg yolks a week

Whole milk
Ice cream
Most hard cheeses
Cream cheese

Fats and Spreads


Low fat spreads
Margarine (high in polyunsaturates)
Corn, sunflower & olive oil

Dripping & Lard
Margarine not high in polyunsaturates

Drinks and Soups

Tea and Coffee
Mineral water
Fruit juices

Packet soups
Alcoholic drinks

Cream soups
Milky drinks
Sugary drinks

Low fat diets and weight loss or weight maintenance
The list of foods above is just a guide as to the best sort of foods to eat that in general contain less fat and calories 'weight for weight' or 'portion for portion'.
If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less calories per day than you have been eating (or do more exercise). In general, foods high in fat contain a lot of calories. However, there are other foods that contain a lot of calories. In particular, sweets and sugar do not contain fat, but are high in calories. Therefore, in addition to a low fat diet, you also have to watch out for other types of foods such as sweets and sugary foods.
There is a separate leaflet called 'Healthy Eating' for a more general overview of food and health, and a leaflet called 'Weight Reduction - How to Lose Weight' which gives advice if you are planning to lose weight.

More about fats
Not all fat is bad! Although all fats are high in calories, we need some fat in our diet, and some types of fat are actually good for our health. The different types of fat include the following.

Saturated fats
These are mainly found in the harder fats such as the fat on meat, lard, and the fat in dairy products such as butter, full cream milk, etc. There are also fats called 'Trans Fats' (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils). These are oils which come from vegetables but have been processed to make them hard and similar to saturated fats. They are often used in processed foods, and in commercially made cakes, biscuits and pastries.
We should try to limit our intake of saturated fats and trans fats as they contribute to weight gain and a raised cholesterol level.

Unsaturated fats
These mainly come from vegetables, nuts and fruits. They are divided into:
  • Polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower oil, and corn oil.
  • Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and rapeseed oil.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids. These come mainly from oily fish such as pilchards, sardines, salmon mackerel and fresh (not tinned) tuna. Some omega 3 fatty acids are found in various plant foods and vegetable oils.
Unsaturated fats are 'good fats' as they are less likely to raise your cholesterol level. Omega 3 fatty acids are also thought to help prevent heart disease and may help to improve our health in other ways. There is a separate leaflet called 'Cholesterol' which gives more details about reducing your cholesterol level.

Food labels
Foods that contain fat often contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats. Food labels often list the amounts of each type of fat in the food (or at least how much of the fat in the food is saturated). As a rule, we should aim to limit our intake of saturated fats, and when we use fats and oils, to mainly choose those high in unsaturates. Food labels also show how many calories are in the food. So, it may be a good idea to get into the habit of reading food labels when you shop.

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