foods with more saturated fat than hot chips

From banana chips and desiccated coconut to dark chocolate, here are ten foods with more saturated fat than hot chips 

A lot of people consider hot chips the ultimate indulgence – but what if I told you they aren’t as bad for you as you might think?

Before we dive in, let me set the record straight: in no way, shape or form am I endorsing deep fried anything as a healthy bite to eat.

You might just be surprised, however, by how hot chips stack up against other common foods you’ve probably sorted into the ‘must be healthier’ basket.

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Saturated vs. unsaturated fat

Time for a quick nutrition lesson. There are two main types of fat in the diet: unsaturated and saturated. Unsaturated fats can be further divided into mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.

These are the healthy fats you’ll find in foods like extra virgin olive oil, salmon, avocado, nuts and seeds. They’re essential for heart and brain health and can help to boost levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.

Then there’s unsaturated fats. These are unhealthy fats that, when consumed in excess, can be detrimental to heart health as they contribute to elevated ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels. FYI, that’s the type of cholesterol you want to keep under wraps because it leads to a build of plaque in your arteries.

With these definitions in mind, it’s easy to understand why nutrition guidelines advocate for replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats in the diet. In fact, your diet is recommended to be no more than 10 per cent saturated fat, which equates to about 23 grams per day if you consume the daily average of 8,700 kilojoules.

So, what foods contain saturated fat? Yes, deep fried goodies like hot chips do contain these unhealthy fats – but there are plenty of other foods that contain far more.

Case in point: the following ten foods that I’ve compared to hot chips based on a pretty standard serving size. For context, your run-of-the-mill hot chips from a fast food joint contains 8.8 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams (that’s about the size of a medium fries from McDonalds).

1. Pork belly = 28.5 grams of saturated fat per 100g

Fatty meats are one of the biggest contenders when it comes to saturated fat, so it will pay to trim any visible fat not only from pork, but beef and lamb, too.

2. Hollandaise sauce = 15.3 grams of saturated per two tablespoons (40g)

Thanks to butter as a key ingredient, this brunch classic contains stacks of saturated fat and kilojoules.

3. Banana chips = 14.6 grams of saturated fat per 50g

Yes, banana chips! Why? They’re coated in coconut oil, which is jam-packed with saturated fat. Although the saturated fat in coconut oil behaves slightly differently to other saturated fats, it can still spike your levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, so it’s worth minimising.

4. Puff pastry = 11.9 grams of saturated fat per 100g

Another food made with a whole lotta butter, anything on the puff pastry bandwagon is going to ramp up your intake of saturated fat. A far healthier alternative is filo, which is just flour and water.

5. Desiccated coconut = 11.5 grams of saturated fat per 20g tablespoon

It’s in so-called healthy cereals, bars and smoothies, but desiccated coconut provides a lot of saturated fat. Try nuts or seeds for healthier fats that provide a similar chewy, moreish texture.

6. Coconut milk = 11.5 grams of saturated fat per 100mL

Are you starting to see a trend? Most coconut products are heavy on the saturated fat front. Cow’s milk or yoghurt can often replace the creaminess coconut milk provides, so don’t be afraid to do a little experimenting with it in the kitchen.

7. Bacon = 11.1 grams of saturated fat per three rashers

Along with other processed meats like salami and prosciutto, bacon is chock-full of unhealthy fats. It’ll ramp up your intake of sodium, too, which is also bad news for heart health.

8. Butter = 10.7 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon (20g)

Butter is enjoying it’s time in the spotlight, but rest assured it is not a healthy kitchen staple. Avocado, peanut butter and hummus are better-for-you alternatives for spreading on your toast and sandwiches.

9. Dark chocolate = 10.4 grams of saturated fat per 4 squares (40g)

It might have a health halo, but dark chocolate isn’t exactly a health food. If you’re a choc-a-holic, it’s easy to consume almost half of your daily maximum saturated fat intake in a single chocolate sitting.

10. Beef sausages = 9.1 grams of saturated fat per 100g sausage

Also on the fatty meat bandwagon, sausages can be chock-full of unhealthy fats, especially if they’re not good quality from a butcher. So, save them for the occasional BBQ rather than being a weekly menu staple.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.