If you have read David ‘Sugar is toxic’ Gillespie’s new book, Toxic Oil, you may be wondering why we need to reduce our saturated fat intake. In actual fact, his claim that eating saturated fat does not pose a danger to health is an irresponsible and misinformed message. There is a substantial body of evidence to show that an increased saturated fat intake increases LDL and total blood cholesterol, known risk factors for heart disease. Consequently, the NHF recommends we lower the saturated fat content of our diet to less than 7% of total energy intake. For the average person with an intake of 8,700 kJ, this equates to 609 kJ or 16 g of saturated fat per day.
I am always analysing the saturated fat content of recipes because Mr. P has high cholesterol. Unfortunately, he is not alone. Over 50% of the Australian adult population has high blood cholesterol. When you put that into context with other heart disease risk factors on the rise in Australia - being overweight, type 2 diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle – its time we all started thinking about how much saturated fat we are eating.
With this in mind, I analysed the nutritional information in Foodworks for a smoked mackerel pâté recipe in delicious magazine and the results were pretty astounding. The saturated fat content of the pâté (17g per serve) is higher than the recommended 16g per day for the average Australian adult and it’s only a small starter. The fat content (37g) is high and could easily make up the majority of a persons fat intake for the day. This pâté is also very high in sodium providing almost 700mg per serve. High amounts of sodium in the diet can increase blood pressure and are associated with heart disease. This pâté is not exactly what I should be feeding to high cholesterol suffering Mr. P or anyone else with risk factors for heart disease.
Although it is recommended we reduce total and saturated fat consumption, the new Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend replacing saturated fat with poly and monounsaturated fats such as oils, nut butters and avocado rather than carbohydrate. I therefore attempted to modify the delicious magazine recipe to reduce the total and saturated fat content in accordance with the food labelling claim of ‘low saturated fat’ but to simultaneously minimise the reduction in poly and monounsaturated fatty acids. With the heart healthy diet in mind, I also aimed to significantly reduce the sodium and the cholesterol content because the NHF recommends individuals with high blood cholesterol limit their dietary cholesterol. My final objective was to keep the pâté tasty because this can be lost when you reduce fat in a recipe.
To achieve these goals, I replaced the butter and half the cream with avocado and replaced the remainder of the cream with whole milk yoghurt. Smoked mackerel is impossible to find in Australia so I substituted smoked rainbow trout which had the added effect of lowering the total and saturated fat content even further. Smoked mackerel consists of 30% fat and 8% saturated fat in comparison to smoked rainbow trout which is 5% fat and 2.4% saturated fat (this was a surprising discovery). For taste, I added some cayenne pepper and lemon zest. And it tasted pretty good!
These modifications made a dramatic difference to the total fat content, reducing it by 73% from 18.3g to 4.9g per 100g. This reduction allows my recipe to use the claim ‘reduced fat’ under Australian food labelling laws. The reduction in saturated fat from 8.5g to 1.2g per 100g – a 90% reduction - also allows the claim ‘low saturated fatty acids’ to be made for this recipe (a ‘low saturated fat’ food must contain less than 1.5g saturated fat per 100g). Reducing the total fat in a food will always reduce the amount of healthy fat as well but the modified recipe preserved approximately 50% of the mono and polyunsaturated fats in the pate. Finally, using a different fish and omitting the butter and cream reduced the dietary cholesterol content to below 20mg per 100g and the sodium content by 49% to 170mg per serve. These two changes allow the labelling claims of ‘low cholesterol’ and ‘reduced sodium’ for my modified pâté.
This pâté provides only 2.5g of saturated fat per serve. In addition, the energy per serve at 1325kJ is almost half that of the original pâté plus it has a higher protein content. This really is a healthier alternative to the original pâté for those with high blood cholesterol and other risk factors associated with heart disease. The downside to changing the fish in the recipe however was the amount of omega 3 fatty acids – the fats that are essential in the diet and particularly good for preventing heart disease – dropped dramatically in the modified pâté. Smoked fish is always high in sodium because of the way it is made so it was difficult to bring the sodium level down to under 120g per 100g, the classification for a low sodium food. This is a big minus for me because I prefer to make foods that the whole family can eat and the sodium content in the modified pâté means I can’t feed it to DJ. Using non-smoked tinned mackerel or sardines could reduce the sodium content so it would be suitable for an infant. But it probably won’t taste smokey anymore :(