NICE Lipid Modification Guidance has been revised to enable doctors to offer statin treatment to people at lower 10 year risk but high lifetime risk of CVD. See our responses to the questions this raises.
Fat content of common foods
Fats and oils
Look out for “light”, “lite” or “low fat”. These terms can only be used on spreads that have the lowest fat content. Most spreadable fats declare their % fat content on the packaging. Whatever you use, use it sparingly.
It is best to use a cooking method that does not need fat such as poaching, steaming, microwaving, grilling, boiling or casseroling. If you need to fry then use a good non-stick frying pan and an oil and water cooking spray.
AVOID: Oil, butter, ghee, lard, suet, goose fat and hard margarine.
Meat, fish and eggs
Look out for the leanest cuts of meat and trim off any visible fat and remove the skin from poultry before cooking. Chicken and turkey (especially the white meat) and white fish are very lean. Choose tuna and other fish canned in water, tomatoes or brine rather than oil. Cook eggs without oil, egg whites are fat free.
You may need to avoid oily fish and limit egg yolks if you are on the lowest fat restriction.
AVOID: Processed meats like sausages, kebab meat, fatty burgers and meat pies, pate and fatty meats like lamb.
Fruit and vegetables and pulses
Most fruit and vegetables are naturally low in fat so make the most of them.
AVOID: Avocado, high fat salad dressings, fried or coated vegetables, olives.
Cereals, breads, crackers, grains
Rice, bread, plain pasta, noodles, couscous, potatoes, oats and many ready made breakfast cereals are mainly starch so try to base your meals around them. Because of the added nutrients and fibre it is always best to opt for whole grain varieties. Whole grains contain slightly more fat, due to the presence of the wheat germ, but they are still classified as low fat.
Watch out for speciality breads that may be made with more oil, breakfast cereals containing nuts, granola, pizzas.
AVOID: Croissants, Danish pastries, mince pies, cheese scones, waffles.
Dairy Foods and their alternatives
Skimmed and 1% fat milk are low fat as is soya milk (opt for the calcium fortified varieties). Many dairy foods and their alternatives are “low fat”. Cottage cheese is also suitable for a low fat diet.
Be careful with half fat cheeses (as these are still high in fat), half fat creams, semi-skimmed and full fat milk and yoghurts.
AVOID: Cream, Cream cheese, full fat cheese (more than 30% fat), crème fraiche.
Snacks, Cakes and Biscuits
Boiled, jellied and gummed sweets, jelly, meringue, some popcorns, chestnuts, sorbets and fruit lollies are all very low in fat.
Go carefully with plain biscuits, English muffins, sponge cakes made without fat, scones, cereal bars and bought desserts.
AVOID: Cake, pastry, filled, coated or fancy biscuits, shortbread, flapjacks, chocolate, fudge, toffee, Indian sweets, nuts and seeds.
Water, tea, coffee, fruit juice, fizzy drinks and squash are all fat free. Most vegetable soups made without cream and low fat milkshakes are usually OK too; but check the labels!
AVOID: cream based soups and drinks made or topped with cream.
Seasonings, condiments, dressings
Herbs, spices, garlic, pepper, lemon juice, stock cubes, yeast and beef extract, mustard, soy sauce, vinegar, pickles are all low fat. Jam, marmalade, honey and golden syrup are all suitable too. Make the most of table sauces such as tomato ketchup, brown sauce, mint sauce, fat free salad dressings, reduced fat mayonnaise and salad cream (less than 3g fat/100g).
AVOID: Nut butters, chocolate spread, full fat salad dressings, pesto and houmous.
Take a look at our handy printable traffic light guide to the fat content of foods