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How to cut down on saturated fats

The excellent UK Food Standards Agency  has recently launched a campaign (see the TV ad) to encourage people to cut down their intake of saturated fats.  As the FSA points out on their webpage about saturated fats most people in the UK eat about 20% more than the maximum recommended amount.  They list examples of foods that are high in saturated fats, including:

  • fatty cuts of meat and meat products such as sausages and pies
  • butter, ghee and lard
  • cream, soured cream, crème fraîche and ice cream
  • cheese, particularly hard cheese
  • pastries
  • cakes and biscuits
  • some savoury snacks
  • some sweet snacks and chocolate
  • coconut oil, coconut cream and palm oil

The FSA recommend checking food labels for saturated fat content.  More than 5gm of saturated fat per 100gm of the food is a high level, while less than 1.5gm per 100gm is low.  Their ten tips to help reduce your saturated fat intake are:

Vegged out & fruitless: lifestyle & health

Last month's BMJ published another in the long line of research articles that highlight the huge importance of lifestyle choices for our health:

Dam, R. M. v., T. Li, et al. (2008). "Combined impact of lifestyle factors on mortality: prospective cohort study in US women." BMJ 337(sep16_2): a1440-  [Free Full Text]

Would you like to be 14 years younger – it’s largely a matter of choice!

Back in January I wrote a blog post entitle "Does a healthy lifestyle really make a difference? "   I highlighted that it makes a hell of a lot of a difference.  At around that time another major study was published that hammered this point home even more thoroughly and I've been meaning to mention it in a post ever since.  The recent publicity on poor fruit and veg intake in the UK population triggered me into looking the earlier study out. 

Alcohol & food

“ For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. ” - Walt Whitman

Here are a series of information and assessment handouts on alcohol and food.  "We are what we eat" is bit over-simplified, but only a bit.  It's amazing how important what we eat and drink is for our psychological and physical health.  This site's blog posts  "New research shows diet's importance for preventing depression" and "Preventing cancer through life style choices" make this point well and also provide links with many other sources of information.  Searching the tag cloud brings up much recent relevant research and advice.  Try clicking, for example, on

Folic acid – should we take supplements?

A GP friend recently asked me about taking folic acid supplements.

Eat 5 to 9 portions of fruit & veg daily

There's a helpful editorial in last month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) - "Fruit and vegetables: think variety, go ahead, eat!" As with many journals, one doesn't have to pay anything to look at the full text of AJCN editorials. It's a good read. It comments on a paper in the journal by Myint et al showing a 42% reduction in stroke for those in the highest quartile - the top 25% - of plasma vitamin C compared with those in the lowest quartile (independently of other risk factors such as smoking, exercise, age, weight and so on).

Does healthy lifestyle really make much difference?

In an earlier post (January 3, 08), I looked at how common sense isn’t common, at least for healthy behaviours. Only about 3% of the population are ticking all the right boxes for non-smoking, alcohol use, exercise, weight and diet. This is interesting and maybe surprising, but does it really matter much?

Common sense isn’t common

Common sense isn’t common, at least with healthy behaviours. The vast majority of us know that we should eat sensibly, be a reasonable weight, exercise regularly, not abuse alcohol, and avoid smoking. Do you know what percentage of people actually follow all this obvious advice? A survey (Reeves and Rafferty 2005) of over 153,000 US adults in 2000 found that only 3% ticked all four boxes when asked if they didn’t smoke, were a healthy weight (body mass index, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by square of height in meters, 18.5 to 25.0), consumed 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables daily, and exercised in leisure time for at least 30 minutes, 5 or more times per week (this includes brisk walking).

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