High street Italian meals have four times daily saturated fat content

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Some high street Italian chain restaurants have meals that include around four times the daily saturated fat content for women, according to a new study.

UK guidelines recommend women should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day and men no more than 30g.

But a typical three-course meal at some popular Italian restaurants can contain twice the recommended daily amount of saturated fat for men, says charity Heart UK.

Three courses of saturated fat

The charity analysed a number of menus by picking a starter, main and dessert, aiming at ones with higher levels of saturated fat.

The dishes at places like Ask Italian, Zizzi and PizzaExpress included the likes of antipasto, carbonara and panna cotta.

The saturated fat content ranged from 72.5g to 80g, depending on the venue and meal choice.

Heart UK dietetic adviser Linda Main described the saturated fat content as “incredibly high”, suggesting it will come as a shock to customers.

Moving to healthier options

While many of the restaurants also offered healthy choices on their menus, she says it doesn’t excuse them from making these “extremely unhealthy” options available.

Many of the meals studied also had excessively high levels of calories, sugar and salt.

Regularly eating excess amounts of energy and saturated fat can lead to obesity and unhealthy cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and the chance of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.

All the restaurants had a number of healthy options, and were working to reduce the sugar, salt and saturated fat content across the menus.

They all also provided easily accessible information on the content of their meals, helping diners to make informed choices.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England (PHE), says that as more people are eating out, restaurants and takeaways have an important role to play in improving everyone's diet.

PHE is working with a number of restaurants to lower sugar and salt on their menus and next year will ask them to reduce calories and saturated fat.


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