Limiting fat intake


Fat is an essential nutrient in the human body. It has several important functions including cushioning delicate internal organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys; carrying fat-soluble vitamins (namely, Vitamins A, D, E, and K) in the blood; and insulating the body to keep us warm.

Excessive consumption of fat, however, increases our risk of obesity, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. In this context, it is important that we monitor both the quantity and the types of fat which we eat.

There are three main kinds of fat in food:

  • saturated fat – for instance, coconut oil, palm oil, butter, ghee. This type of fat tends to raise LDL cholesterol levels and contribute to atherosclerosis;
  • polyunsaturated fat – for example, sunflower oil, corn oil, soya bean oil. Polyunsaturated fat is regarded as a healthier alternative to saturated fat.
  • monounsaturated fat – for instance, olive oil and canola oil. It is believed that this kind of fat helps to reduce our overall blood cholesterol levels and may thus be beneficial to our health in moderate amounts.

Nutritionists recommend that we consume at most 30% of our daily energy needs in the form of fat. Saturated fat should comprise no more than 1/3 of our total daily fat intake, with unsaturated fat making up the remaining 2/3.

To reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet, give these tips a try.

  • Trim off visible fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry before cooking or eating these.
  • Replace full-fat dairy products with low-fat or fat-free versions whenever possible.
  • Limit your intake of deep-fried food to at most twice a week.
  • Instead of frying food, boil, steam, poach, or stew it with little or no oil.
  • For dessert, cut down on cream cakes and pastries, and have fresh fruit in lieu.

When eating out, choose soup-based dishes as these tend to be lower in fat and calories than fried dishes, drink plain water or fresh fruit juice instead of sweetened drinks, and avoid deep-fried items.