How to Identify Saturated Fats in Your Diet

Five Parts:Reading the LabelIdentifying the Saturated Fats in your DietIdentifying the Packaged ProductsIdentifying the Non-Packaged ProductsMaking a Decision and Taking Action

Do you need to lower your saturated fat intake for health reasons or to become healthier? Saturated and unsaturated fats are very different, saturated fats can raise your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and affect your heart whereas unsaturated is very beneficial to your heart. The average person should at the most, have 7% of saturated fat in their diet. This article can help you identify saturated fats so you can stay away from them. Start with Step 1 to learn how to identify saturated fats.

Part 1
Reading the Label

  1. 1
    Understand the different types of fats. Ensure that you understand each fat well so you are not confused which is which.
    • Monounsaturated fats are healthy, they are found in avocados, peanuts and other various nuts and seeds.
    • Polyunsaturated fats are also healthy, they can be found in leafy green vegetables, fish and some nuts.
    • Trans fats, though they are an unsaturated fat, they act the same as a saturated fat. Only small amounts are found in dairy products and red meat. A high amount can be found in deep fried food and baked.
    • Saturated fats are found in all meat (including processed, e.g. nuggets, fritz, sausages), store bought pastries and cakes, dairy (including chocolate and ice-cream) and palm oil. Saturated fats will turn solid in room temperature; butter is made of saturated fat, that is why it is hard.
  2. 2
    Know how saturated fat is labelled. Look for the nutritional table on the packaging of your product. Find the label which says Total Fat, various labels underneath are the different types of fats. Check to see if there is a label saying Saturated Fat or Trans Fat. Both are separate because they are different things but they are both unhealthy for you.
  3. 3
    Look at the amount of saturated fat on the label. Find the 100g column and look at the amount of saturated fat contained. If the saturated fat content is greater than 5g per 100g then it is high in saturated fat. Foods like these can include most dairy, oils, butter and margarine. If the saturated fat content is less than 1.5g per 100g, it is consider low in saturated fat and will most probably be marked in the green food group.
    • Women should consume no more than 20g of saturated fat and men should consume no more than 30g.

Part 2
Identifying the Saturated Fats in your Diet

  1. 1
    Keep a food diary for a day. Record every one of your drinks, spreads, meals and snacks in, be sure to include the specific brand name and type or flavour. Don't forget to include cooking fats such as shortening, oil and butter. Try to write in the exact or approximate measurements in your food diary so you know exactly how much you have consumed.
  2. 2
    Read your completed food diary. Gather everything together that you included in your food diary. Analyse each item carefully and sort out into 2 groups:
    • The first group will be natural products (without packaging). This includes water, fresh vegetables and fruit, fresh meat and other unpackaged produce.
    • The second group will be processed products (packaged). These products will come in boxes, plastic bags and assortments of packaging. All of these should have a nutritional and ingredients label printed onto the packaging.

Part 3
Identifying the Packaged Products

  1. 1
    Read the labels of each of the packaged products. Write down the amount of saturated fat per 100g for each product on a piece of paper. Ensure that you do not miss any products.
  2. 2
    Convert the amount of saturated fat to the amount you consumed. E.g. You consumed 50g of cereal, and there was 2.5g of saturated fat in 100g. Place the amount of cereal into a fraction: 50/100. 50 be divided into 100 two times, therefore, you divide the amount of saturated fat in 100g by 2. The answer would be 1.25g of saturated fat in 50g of cereal.
  3. 3
    Repeat the converting process until all products are finished. Add together the amount of saturated fat you consumed during the day.

Part 4
Identifying the Non-Packaged Products

  1. 1
    Research to find the amount of saturated fat in each product per 100g. Some foods may not have saturated fats but by cooking them with an oil or butter, it can change.
  2. 2
    Know which part of meat you are consuming. The sirloin cut of meat is significantly higher in saturated fat than the tenderloin. If you are having difficulty determining each part of the meat, visit your local butcher and ask them.
  3. 3
    Add together the amount of saturated fat. Complete by adding the two totals together.

Part 5
Making a Decision and Taking Action

  1. 1
    Determine whether you need to change your diet or not. Is your saturated intake above the healthy average person or just right? Do you want to change your diet?
  2. 2
    Take action. Ideas can include:
    • Switching to 1-2% fat milk and use low fat dairy products.
    • Using cuts of meat that have less saturated fat.
    • Home baking biscuits, cakes and pastries.


  • Use a calculator if you are having difficulties working your saturated fat intake.

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Categories: Maintaining Diets