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Five ways to eat less saturated fat
  • Having too much saturated fat can raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and this can make you more at risk of heart disease. Men from South Asian communities are particularly at risk – they are advised to eat no more than 30 grams of saturated fat a day, and for women this figure is 20 grams.

  • Photo: Nazma Lakhani Nazma Lakhani

    Having too much saturated fat can raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and this can make you more at risk of heart disease. Men from South Asian communities are particularly at risk, especially if they are overweight and carry the extra weight around the stomach; they are advised to eat no more than 30 grams of saturated fat a day, and for women this figure is 20 grams. Look at labels to keep an eye on how much you're eating in a day. There are many recipes on this site that are lower in saturated fat – just look out for the green traffic lights.

    1. Meat, such as mutton and lamb, can be high in saturated fat, so it is best to choose lean cuts and to minimise the fat you use in cooking. There is often enough fat already in some cuts of meat so you may not need to add any extra ghee or oil in cooking. Try cooking onions and spices in the meat juices rather than frying them first. Or boil the meat separately, throw away the cooking water and then use the meat as normal in making a curry or pilau dish. Try to blot off any fat that has settled on the top of curries with some kitchen paper before serving. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey as the skin is rich in saturated fats. Try the Chicken Tikka Masala or Yoghurt Chicken recipes on this site.
    2. Choose fish instead of fatty meat. Oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, tuna, sardines and pilchards are the richest sources of healthy omega-3 oils. Choose fish twice a week and make sure one portion is oily fish. Don't fry it though! You can make delicious masala fish by smothering your favourite fish with spices and tomatoes and baking it in the oven. Mmmmm…
    3. Choose lower fat dairy products such as skimmed (fat-free), 1% or semi-skimmed (2%) milk, low fat yoghurt and reduced fat cheeses. If you don't like lower fat cheeses, try buying a stronger flavoured cheese and grating it so you get full flavour with less fat. Paneer is generally high in fat, so you could try using tofu instead. Butter is rich in saturated fat. If you swap the butter on two slices of buttered toast with a poly or mono-unsaturated spread, you could save more than 5 grams of saturated fat, which would bring you very close to the recommended maximum intake of saturated fat. And you could make home made yoghurt with lower fat milks – it does work!
    4. Avoid using ghee or creamed coconut in cooking. Did you know that there are 10 grams of saturated fat in just one tablespoon of ghee? Vegetable ghee is often rich in another “bad” fat called trans-fat, so choose oils made from rapeseed, canola, olive, corn or sunflower instead.
    5. Mithai, like burfi and penda, may be tasty, but they are often made with ingredients like ghee, butter, condensed milk and full cream milk powder. Save mithai for special occasions. Processed foods, like burgers, pastries and pies, can be high in salt and unhealthy fats.

    To cut down on fat and salt generally, eat fewer fried foods like samosas, bhajias, chevda, puris and ganthia. Try brushing samosas or kachoris with oil and baking in the oven till crisp. Even if you use a fair amount of oil, it's likely to be lower in fat than if you had fried them.

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