Free Public System

live healthy blog

Free Public System - live healthy blog

Fatty and sugary foods

Ice-CreamThis group includes :

Butter and margarine

Cooking fats and oils

Cakes and biscuits



Ice cream


Sugary drinks


Fats are the most concentrated source of calories (energy) in our diet. There are two main types of fat, saturated and unsaturated, which differ in their chemical structure.

Saturated fats are mainly from animal sources such as butter, lard, meat and dairy products.

Coronary Heart Disease is a serious health problem in this country. Two of the factors which increases the risk of developing heart disease are a high cholesterol level in the blood and obesity. A high intake of fat of any kind can lead to obesity, and a diet high in saturated fat can lead to increased blood cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats lower cholesterol.

Another type of fat which can also have an adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels is trans fat. Anything with “hydrogenated vegetable fat or oil” in the ingredients list is very likely to contain trans fats. The main sources of trans fats in the diet are processed foods such as biscuits, chocolates, savoury snacks and puddings. In addition, some margarines and solid cooking fats are made from hydrogenated fats.



Sugar can provide the body with energy but no other nutrients. However, we do not need this sugar to meet our energy requirements. We can obtain all the energy we need from other foods of higher nutritional value, especially starchy foods.

As with fat, a high sugar intake can often lead to an overall increased calorie intake, which increases the risk of obesity. A high sugar intake can also increase the risk of developing abnormal levels of another type of fat named triglycerides. High levels of this type of fat in the bloodstream are also known to increase the risk of heart disease.

Aim to keep fatty and sugary foods to a minimum. When choosing pre-prepared foods, read the labelling to select those with a low fat or low sugar content.

Use less fat for cooking and try to use alternative methods of cooking such as grilling, microwaving, dry roasting, steaming or poaching. If you do use oil, keep to small quantities and choose one high in monounsaturates.

Use less butter and margarine and remember to spread them thinly, even if using low fat spreads. Try to choose a margarine or spread high in monounsaturated fat.

Cutting down on fatty foods will often automatically reduce the sugar content of the diet as many foods high in fat are also high in sugar. Examples include cake, chocolate and biscuits.


Milk and dairy products

Cows milk can provide the body with nearly all of its required nutrients, as it is a good source of protein and many vitamins and minerals. However, on its own, it cannot provide sufficient iron, vitamin C or vitamin D.

Milk and dairy foods provide over half of the calcium in the typical British diet. The calcium present in dairy foods is one of the easiest forms to be absorbed into the body. Most of the body’s calcium is found in our bones and teeth. Calcium is also important in blood clotting, controlling blood pressure, helping muscles to contract and relax, and controlling our heartbeat.

Calcium is important for us all but is needed in larger amounts by growing children and adolescents, breastfeeding mums and by women after the menopause.

It is often assumed that skimmed and semi-skimmed milk contain less calcium, but in fact, calcium levels are slightly higher in skimmed and semi-skimmed milk than in whole milk (full cream).

The fat in milk and dairy products is mostly saturated. Whole (full cream) milk contains about 4% fat, semi-skimmed milk contains between 1.5 and 1.8 % fat, and skimmed milk has almost all of the fat removed. Full-fat cheddar cheese is typically around 30% fat.

Low fat yoghurt or crème fraiche are healthier alternatives to cream.

Try using low fat cheeses or even cottage cheese. If you use full fat versions, try to have stronger flavoured cheese and aim for smaller portions. Eat cheese as part of a meal rather than as an additional snack.

Healthy eating advice


When cooking fresh vegetables it is important to try not to overcook them. Some nutrients are destroyed by heat, and others leach into the water. If vegetables are boiled, cover them with as little water as possible. Alternatively, steam or microwave them.

Frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables can be as nutritious as fresh alternatives, and have the advantage of being convenient.

When buying fruit juices, look at the packaging to find brands without added sugar, glucose syrup or dextrose.


Meat, fish and alternatives

Most animal proteins (from meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs) are said to have high biological value because they provide all the amino acids required by the body.

Most vegetable proteins, except for soya protein, are said to have low biological value because on their own, they are less likely to provide all the required amino acids. However, when vegetable proteins are eaten as part of a varied and mixed diet, the amino acids missing from one protein food will usually be provided by another. This means that people who eat little or no animal protein are unlikely to have a deficiency provided that they have a varied and adequate diet. Vegetable proteins do have the advantage of being low in fat, high in fibre and also inexpensive.

The fat content and proportion of saturated fat to overall fat content of meat and meat products will vary depending on the type of animal, the cut of meat and whether it is processed or not. Lean cuts of meat with visible fat removed and cooked without further added fat will produce a lower fat dish. By casseroling or braising fattier cuts of meat such as mince, any excess fat can be skimmed off the surface after cooking. Processed meats such as sausages, beefburgers and meat pies tend to have a higher fat content and higher proportion of saturated fat because they are processed with the fat from the meat.

Meat is also a good source of zinc and all of the B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid. However, it contains little folic acid.

Pulses, lentils and nuts are good sources of protein and fibre, and are frequently used by vegetarians and vegans as a meat alternative. They do not contain vitamin C, but contain more B vitamins than many other vegetables. Nuts have a high fat content, although most of this is not saturated (with the exception of coconut).

quorn-chicken-nuggetsTextured vegetable protein is made by isolating the protein from vegetables such as soya beans and processing it into mince or chunks. It is often fortified with extra B vitamins, including B12, and iron. This makes it an ideal alternative to meat for vegetarians. Quorn also belongs to this group of foods, and is produced by growing a fungal micro-organism and harvesting the product. It can be incorporated into a range of dishes or ready-made meals as it can be sliced, diced or shredded.

A diet without any animal protein can meet requirements for most nutrients if the diet is planned carefully. Special care is needed to ensure that sufficient iron, calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin is provided. However, no vegetable proteins naturally contain vitamin B12. This vitamin is needed for the formation of blood cells and for the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Anyone who does not eat animal protein will need to include another source of vitamin B12, such as yeast extracts.

Most of us eat adequate amounts of protein foods and often have more than our bodies require. When preparing a meal, starchy foods should form the basis of the meal, along with fruit, salad or vegetables. Protein foods should be eaten in moderation only. In particular, watch out for meals which combine two or more protein foods, e.g. meat and cheese, or meat and eggs. You are effectively “doubling up” here.

For meat and poultry, choose lean cuts and trim visible fat. Avoid added fat or oil where possible during cooking.

Try to eat processed meat products, such as sausages and pates, as infrequently as possible. It is a good idea to check for the fat content when buying these products or ready made meals. Even vegetarian versions can be high in fat.

Aim to have fish at least twice each week, including oily fish at least once.

Try to have beans and pulses regularly, as they are high fibre and low fat. They can be added to meat dishes, thereby reducing the amount of meat used.