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Choosing healthy meat and fish

Meat and meat products are one of the major sources of fat, especially saturated fat, in the diet, but - as the chart shows - there is a wide variation in the amount of total fat and saturated fat in different types of meat.

Choosing healthier meats

Choosing healthy meat and fish
© DK

Manufactured products such as sausages and salami contain the most fat, so if you are trying to lose weight or improve your diet, you could begin by replacing these with healthier choices. When shopping, choose products without visible white fat or marbling.

An easy way to reduce the fat content of chicken or turkey is to avoid eating the skin. If you cook poultry with the skin on to retain moisture, remove it and discard after cooking. Also, opt for the white meat of poultry rather than the dark meat, which contains more fat.

Food typeTotal fatSaturated fat
Bacon (streaky) 77% 27%
Sausage 72% 26%
Minced beef 64% 27%
Chicken wing (with skin) 58% 16%
Lamb (lean) 56% 26%
Chicken thigh (with skin) 56% 16%
Ground beef (extra lean) 50% 21%
Bacon (lean back) 45% 16%
Beef (lean) 35% 13%
Pork (lean) 29% 10%
Venison 18% 6.0%
Chicken breast (no skin) 17% 5.0%
Turkey breast (no skin) 7.0% 2.0%

Eat more fish and shellfish

Seafood is a good source of protein as well as being low in saturated fat and providing B vitamins and many minerals. In addition, oily fish provide the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It was once advised that shellfish, in particular prawns, should be avoided in a healthy diet because of their high cholesterol content. However, recent studies show that although prawns and other shellfish do contain high levels of cholesterol, they are very low in saturated fat (as long as they are not battered and deep-fried) - it is saturated fat that is the crucial risk factor for heart disease for most people. The benefits from fish and shellfish mean they should be eaten at least twice a week.

Good sources

  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Scallops
  • Prawns
  • Lobster

Posted 30.06.2010

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