I recently discovered that it's easy to reduce saturated fat in the diet. A new Dutch study reported in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that the replacement of relatively few important high-saturated fat products by available lower-saturated fat alternatives can significantly reduce saturated fat intake. By concentrating on just cheese, meat and milk modifications the proportion of individuals complying with recommended intake levels rocketed from 23% to 86%.
This must be great news for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) , which launched a programme back in February that aims to cut the saturated fat intake for children over five from 13.3% of total energy to 11% by 2010.
We all know that high intake of saturated fats has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and reductions lead to a wide range of health benefits. However, saturated fats can give textural and flavour benefits to products that are hard to replace with unsaturated fats. On September 30, Leatherhead Food Research is hosting a conference on saturated fat reduction to discuss all the issues. It will include the FSA's work with industry, novel solutions for pastry, biscuits and confectionery, reformulating margarines, the Lipgene project and new fat replacement technologies such as Methocel MX.
But if we can solve everything by concentrating on the top three contributors of saturated fat in the diet, perhaps we could forget the rest? (Don't mess with those yummy cakes and biscuits!) I guess we should not overlook national trends - the Dutch consume a lot of meat and dairy, whereas pastries and pies feature heavily in the UK.
But here's the rub. The Dutch study used a computer simulation - it is not so easy to persuade people to give up their favourite meat and dairy products in real life!
Dr Paul Berryman chief executive officer
Leatherhead Food Research www.leatherheadfood.com