Dietary fats, consumed in small amounts, are an essential part of the diet. There are different types of fats, with some fats being healthier than others. The main types of fat found in our foods are saturated, trans (so called ‘less healthy’ fats) and unsaturated which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (so called ‘healthier’ fats).
Below are some examples of food containing saturated and unsaturated fats.
Sources include fatty cuts of meat, full-fat milk, cheese, butter, cream, most commercially baked products such as biscuits and pastries, most deep-fried fast foods, coconut and palm oil.
Sources include avocado, and nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews and almonds (including peanut and other nut butters), margarine spreads such as canola or olive oil based choices, oils such as olive, canola and peanut.
Sources include fish, seafood, polyunsaturated margarines, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn or soy oils, nuts such as walnuts and Brazil nuts, and seeds.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) which is applicable to healthy Australians and those with common diet related risk factors (being over-weight) recommend a diet that is low in saturated fats and trans fats, but that also includes moderate amounts of unsaturated fats. The AGHE does provide a daily allowance for unsaturated spreads and oils which is limited to 2 serves for women and men over 70.
A ‘serve’ of unsaturated spreads and oils is equivalent to:
- 10g unsaturated spread (vegetable, nut, seed based)
- 10g tree nuts or peanuts or nut pastes/butter
- 1 measured teaspoon unsaturated oil (e.g., olive oil, canola, sunflower)
The AGHE does not specifically apply to the frail elderly and therefore cream and butter (under direction from the dietitian) can be included as part of the AGHE serve samples. This is because the guideline to lower saturated fat is not so relevant for this group. The DAA menu audit toolkit for aged care homes 2016 recommends that the aged care menu provides the opportunity to choose a minimum of 2 serves of fats and oils each day and this can include cream (20ml = 1 serve) and butter (10g = 1 serve).
Below are some practical tips for chefs to consider when developing menus to help the aged care population achieve a healthy balance of fats and oils;
- Try to use unsaturated fats and oils for cooking, frying and over salads (for example olive, sunflower, canola oil)
- Try to use unsaturated margarines for sandwich/baking where applicable
- Butter can be used in baking if butter is a key ingredient in the recipe (eg shortbread)
- Make sure butter and margarine blends are available on the table to spread
- Additional fats are added where a resident is malnourished or at risk of weight loss.
Note, this should be under the supervision of the dietitian or healthcare professional.
The Dietitian (APD) is best placed to provide further guidance on the above practical tips.
Source: DAA menu audit toolkit 2016.
This audit tool was developed specifically for dietitians and food service and care staff. Copies can only be obtained by an APD through DAA membership. Please ask your dietitian for more details about the tool.