What’s worse for me: fat or sugar?
BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor says:
This question has been a hot topic in the press, with arguments raging back and forth, but it shouldn’t be a choice between the two.
We have good evidence that there is a link between saturated fat and raised cholesterol levels, while there is also an issue in relation to the amount of sugar we eat and our weight. This means that, as well as cutting down on foods high in saturated fat and replacing saturated fats like butter with unsaturated fats like rapeseed, olive or sunflower oils, it’s important to keep an eye on the amount of added sugar we are eating, or that is in our drinks, so that we don’t end up consuming too many calories.
A healthy diet consists of foods from five different food groups: fruit and vegetables; bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates; meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein; milk and dairy foods; and foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar, and it’s better for us to focus our attention on the overall balance of these.
If we are eating too much of one food group, then it means there is less room for another in our diet. So rather than focus on cutting out, think about what you could be eating more of.
Swap your fatty and sugary snacks for fruit and vegetables and have good helpings of these at mealtimes too. Go for low-fat milk and dairy products, ditch the white starchy carbohydrates for wholegrain versions, and choose pulses and fish instead of processed or fatty meat, for example. You will be well on your way to a healthy balance that is low in saturated fat and added sugar.
Meet the expert
Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with more than ten years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. At the BHF she advises on diet and nutrition.