Wednesday, 27th May 2020
Food & Drink Article

This Month's Magazine
Healthy Cooking for Summer

Healthy Cooking for Summer

There are good fats and bad fats. Some fats and oils contain essential nutrients, but with words like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, it gets a little bit confusing as to which ones we should choose.

Eating too much of any kind of fat is never a good idea, but a certain amount is needed to protect your organs, keep you warm, help your body to absorb and move around nutrients and also help with hormone production. To help understand the types of fats and where they come from we first need to put them into categories as follows:

  • Saturated 
  • Mono-unsaturated 
  • Poly-unsaturated 
  • Trans fats
  • Essential fatty Acids

Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. They can be found in beef, lamb, whole milk dairy products such as cheese, milk and icecream, poultry skin, egg yolks, biscuits and pastries, and fried fast foods or in certain ‘take-aways’. On the whole saturated fats are mostly found in animal products.

Mono-unsaturated fats remain liquid at room temperature but may start to solidify in the fridge. These include margarine spreads with a base such as olive oil or canola, oils such as olive, canola and peanut, nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds and avocado.

Poly-unsaturated fats remain liquid at room temperature and in the fridge. They can be found in fish, seafood, polyunsaturated margarines, vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn or soy, nuts such as walnuts and brazil nuts, and seeds. 

Trans fats are produced by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen. The more hydrogenated an oil is, the harder it will be at room temperature, for example a spreadable margarine will have less trans fats than a hard margarine. They can be found in commercially prepared baked goods which include biscuits, doughnuts and pastries, some margarines, snack foods and processed foods, and commercially prepared fried foods like chips and deep fried food – in fact, all the naughty food we like to eat!


Essential Fatty Acids are needed for good health, and as our bodies can’t produce them, they have to be eaten. We can find these in grains, corn and safflower oil, most plant-based oils, poultry and eggs, walnuts, soybeans, and certain fish which include salmon, tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, herring and mackerel. These are known as the omega 3, 6 and 9 oils.

If you use your common sense it is pretty obvious that foods containing saturated fats cannot be particularly healthy, and we now know that these foods contribute to the risk of heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. If replaced with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet, this will help to lower blood cholesterol, with polyunsaturated fats having a slightly greater impact. Trans fats are even worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fats, so if you are able to limit your intake of saturated fats you really should try to cut out trans fats from your diet altogether.

Here are a few recommendations in how to limit your fat intake, particularly saturated and trans fats.

  • Trim any visible fat off meat or poultry
  • Try to include one or two fish or seafood meals per week, preferably oily fish
  • Don’t use saturated fats in batter or when frying. Remember, pan frying and deep-frying may decrease the omega 3 content when frying fish. Steamed fish or baked fish really is delicious
  • Try steaming, stir frying or baking rather than frying everything. In fact the food will be a lot tastier
  • Change over to semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and lower fat content in other dairy products – you’ll soon get used to it!
  • Cut down the ‘take-aways’ and all those crisps, biscuits, cakes and other processed foods that contain the dreaded trans fats
  • Use a variety of different oils such as virgin olive oil, canola oil or peanut oil
  • A good non-stick pan will help you not to use so much oil solely to stop food from sticking

So next time you go food shopping there is no excuse! Take time out to read the labels and maybe you will find yourself healthier, losing that ½ stone you’ve been trying to lose for ages, and cooking food you can really taste!

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