8 ways to cut saturated fat and reduce your risk of both diabetes and heart disease

Cholesterol 101 – what are the different parts of cholesterol

Total cholesterol is the sum of all the different types of cholesterol in blood. The target level 4 or under for people who have previous diagnosis of heart disease or diabetes.
LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol. LDL is like a dump truck. It deposits cholesterol into the fatty plaques on the artery walls, narrowing the blood vessels. The target for LDL is 2 or less.
HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol. It is like a grader, removing the cholesterol from the fatty plaques and widening the walls. The target for this is greater than 1.
Triglycerides:. If elevated this fat prevents HDL from doing its job. It is like traffic measures that prevent the good cholesterol getting to where it works. This value should be under 2. Elevated triglycerides occur with heavy alcohol intake and when people eat excessive refined carbohydrate.

Does saturated fat cause bad cholesterol and heart disease?

Over time the research on fats has varied on how saturated fat intake can be linked to heart disease risk. Heart disease like diabetes has multiple risk factors. Both prospective cohort studies and clinical trials suggest a relationship between high saturated fat and heart disease. This is why as a dietitian I recommend reducing saturated fat to less than 10% of energy. In a 2000kcal (8,400kJ) diet that represents reducing to 23g (5tsp) of saturated fat. This is a reduction from from around 35g (8tsp) for most people.

How to reduce saturated fat intake?

Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods every day including:

  • some milk and milk products, mostly low and reduced fat
  • some legumes*, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry (eg, chicken) and/or red meat with the fat removed

Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods every day including:

  • with unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats
  • that are mostly ‘whole’ and less processed

8 dietary changes to reduce fat

  1. Choosing low fat or reduced fat milk and yogurts (Less than 2 g fat per 100g).
  2. Portion controlling cheese to 30g per serving.
  3. Having at least legume based meals per week.
  4. Trim, skim and skin meat and chicken, to reduce the total amount of fat from animal products.
  5. Portion control meat portions to no more than 150g per meal (raw weight)
  6. Use oil in cooking, not solid fats
  7. Use margarine instead of butter
  8. Limit the amount of processed foods you have. If you need snacks then have real food.

This advice has been around for years and it hasn’t worked

We have 8 points for change, so whydo we still have a problem.Yes, we have been giving this advice for years but few people follow it. Why? There are a lot of myths and false news about saturated fats. Conspiracy theorists believe the research is funded by “big food or big pharmacy to maintain their market. These claims are amusing at best and offensive at worst.

What if you are wrong – the diet change trial.

If someone presents with raised cholesterol and is suspicious about my advice I set this challenge. Follow my advice for 3 months. At the end of it we check again and see the impact. If your cholesterol worsens despite following my advice, I will support them to try a different approach FREE OF CHARGE. Not many people try something different (I can think of two in my career). Most people can get a significant reduction in their bad cholesterol. With careful selection of the oils and some increase in physical activity, their good cholesterol increases

Saturated fat and diabetes

There is strong links between saturated fat intake and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be demonstrated by an increase in HBA1, when there has not been any weight change. Some people having a high saturated fat have a marked increase in HBA1c. Again in this case I will offer them a chance to manage their pre-diabetes or diabetes. If they don’t get an improvement on my advice, I will help them find something that works for them FREE OF CHARGE.

So if you think you want to change your diet. Come and see me. Let’s see if we can improve those numbers. Employers may benefit from supporting their staff to access my services. Improving diabetic control and heart disease risk pays off.

2 Replies to “8 ways to cut saturated fat and reduce your risk of both diabetes and heart disease”

  1. Hi Helen I’m a t 1 diabetic I have had a heart attack which I got 5 bypasses done. I am having a hard time losing weight and I am getting really tired of this I am also going thru menopause . I really need to lose weight mu weight is 90kg and I’m 5.foot 5 tall. I get very tired also. Any advise will be greatfullu received. Thanks Dawn

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