Low fat foods are useful for maintaining an ideal weight and body composition.

While fats are an essential part of our diet. you need the right amount and type to be healthy.

On this page, you’ll discover:

  • how much fat you need to eat
  • lists of high, moderate and low fat food sources
  • which fats to avoid,
  • why you need cholesterol
  • which fats are essential for health – the omega 3’s.

Click here to download a fact sheet summary of this blog.

How much fat should you eat?

Just like carbohydrates, the amount of fatty foods you eat has a huge effect on health and weight.

If you focus on getting enough lean protein, fiber and healthy carbohydrates, it may help you to cut down the amount of dietary fats.

Your total daily intake should be somewhere between:

  • 30 – 60g (women and children), and
  • 40 – 80g per day (men)

This is based on a 1800 – 2500 calorie diet. The fat portion is about 20 – 30% of a total daily calorie intake.

According to the Australian National Heart Foundation, less than 20g of total fat intake should be from saturated forms.

What does 30 – 80g of fat look like?

It’s roughly one to three tablespoons, per day.

That’s not much, when you consider the hidden fats in foods.

For example, there’s about 50g of fat in two pieces of fried chicken and small serve of fries. So for some people, that’s their total daily intake in one meal!

That’s why it’s important to know about low fat foods, especially if you are on a diet to lose weight.

See our lists below to work out what’s right for you.

A list of high fat foods

These are foods that contain over 20% fat (20g per 100g of food). Use them sparingly.

The whole food sources such as nuts, seeds, oils and avocados, are healthy and can be eaten more often.

The other sources are less healthy and should be eaten occasionally.

Food Serving Size Fat per Serve % Fat per Serve
Coconut Oil 20 g (= 1 tbsp) 20 g 100%
Butter 7 g (=1 pat) 7 g 100%
Olive Oil 20 ml (= 1 tbsp) 20 g 100 %
Flaxseed Oil * 18 g (=1 tbsp) 18 g 100%
Coconut, dried 8 g (= 1 tbsp) 5.2 g 65%
Nuts – all types 30 g (= 10 – 15 nuts) 13 – 22 g 43 – 73%
Seeds – all types * 15 g (= 1 – 2 tbsp) 6 g 40%
Cheese, Hard/Tasty 25 g (= 1 round tbsp) 8.4 g 34%
Cheese, Soft (Brie) 30 g (= 1 round tbsp) 9.2 g 31%
Cheese, low fat 25 g (= 1 round tbsp) 6 g 24%
Avocado 100 g (= 1/2 avo) 21 g 21%

* Indicates presence of omega 3 fatty acids in the food – healthy!

A list of moderate fat foods

Low fat foods, fat free and high fat foods | Downsize Me

Moderate foods contain 3 – 20g fat per 100g of food (e.g. 3% – 20%).

Eat them regularly, in moderate amounts.

Food Serving Size Total Fat (g)  % Fat per Serve
Oily fish * e.g. herring, mackerel, tuna, salmon, anchovy 100 g 10 – 18 g 10 – 18%
Cheese, Ricotta or Cottage, full cream (= 3 flat tbsp) 60 g 6 g 10%
Yoghurt, Greek (= 1/2 cup) 125 g 12 g 9.6%
Eggs (= 1 egg) 60 g 5.7 g 9.5%
Olives (-5 green or black) 55 g 4.6 g 8.4%
Milk, whole (= 1 cup) 250 mL 8.8 g 3.4%

* Indicates presence of omega 3 fatty acids in the food – healthy!

Most of these contain healthy, unprocessed fats.

A list of low fat foods

These foods are low in fat, containing less than 3g fat per 100g of food (less than 3%).

Most brands are typically low fat low calorie foods.

Eat low fat foods in moderate amounts (remember, everything in moderation).

Food Serving Size Total Fat (g) % Fat Per Serve
Yoghurt, Greek, low fat (= 1 cup) 250 g 7.4 g 2.9%
Milk, Bonsoy (= 1 cup) 250 mL 5.5 g 2.2%
Milk, almond (= 1 cup) 250 mL 3.5 g 1.4%
Milk, low fat (= 1 cup) 250 mL 2.5 g 1%

* Indicates presence of omega 3’s in the food – healthy!

Remember – most fruits and vegetables are considered to be fat free foods!

Downsize Me

Some tasty, low fat snacks, include:

  • a fresh salad with balsamic vinegar
  • a vegetable soup with plenty of herbs and some beans
  • a lentil patty
  • freshly caught and smoked fish
  • skim milk yoghurt
  • a wild rice and lentil salad with crunchy celery and fresh herbs.

Grains contain very small amounts of fats, usually in the outer husks of the grain.

Rather than just listing these foods, we must also understand the type of fats we’re eating.

Mono, poly, saturated and trans fat forms

There are four main types of dietary fats:

  • Monounsaturated – these lower cholesterol,
  • Polyunsaturated – these lower cholesterol, and include the heart healthy omega-3’s,
  • Saturated – these increase cholesterol. They are harder for the body to break down, and should be less than 10% of a total healthy fat intake, and
  • Trans – these behave in a similar way to saturated fats in your body. They are made by applying high temperature and/or pressure to plant lipids. They have a longer shelf life (take longer to go rancid). They should make up less than 1% of total daily fat intake.

Here are the main sources of these forms:

Type of fat Examples
Monounsaturated fats Avocado, olives and olive oil, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts and oil, walnuts and walnut oil
Polyunsaturated fats Flax seeds, oily fish, Brazil nuts
Saturated fats Coconut oil, butter, meat, coconut milk, salami, pastries, cakes, biscuits, pizza, cheese, meats
Trans fats Butter, deep fried foods, some margarine/cooking spreads

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is made by your liver. It’s used by the body to make hormones, vitamin D, bile acid and healthy cell walls.

Your liver makes more than half of your daily cholesterol needs – about 1000mg per day.

Cholesterol is made from the saturated fat you eat. Cholesterol also comes from some foods – mainly animals products like eggs, meat and dairy, and also from some seafood like prawns and crayfish.

The two types of cholesterol are LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

  • LDL is often called bad cholesterol because too much of it contributes to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • HDL is often called the good cholesterol because a higher level of it can protect against heart disease by reducing atherosclerosis.

 

Wrapping it up – What to eat?

There’s a lot to understand on this page, so here’s a summary:

  • The healthiest fats are polyunsaturated, specifically, the omega 3’s found in fish and seafood
  • The best high protein low fat foods are fish and lean poultry,
  • Small amounts of nuts and seeds are beneficial, particularly if you choose walnuts which contain omega 3’s, and
  • Wild rice, legumes, water plants and vegetables are all healthy low fat foods.

 

Click here to download a fact sheet summary of this article.

Melanie White

Melanie White

Chief Inspiration Coach

I'm a quirky scientist and a Health and Wellness Coach who helps 35+ women to understand and eat right for their body type.