(image: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat : Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat)

Understand how to use fat to enhance your cooking & flavours

FAT – what is fat?

A lot of people are now frightened by fat and the negative connotations that comes with it.

But the key is to understand the different types of fats and what positives they bring to the table, literally, in terms of flavour.

And also understanding what fats impact health.

And how to keep a balance of them both.


It’s what we all want in a good meal.

And fat is necessary to bring true depth, richness and texture to your food.

Otherwise you’re going to get food that’s far less pleasurable… and who needs that?

Think for a second about your favourite pastry; how would your croissant or pain au chocolat taste if they were without butter?!

Or the humble sausage; what would this little food hero be like without fat?

We need it.

But you have to understand the other side of the coin to…

Health and nutrition

A little health fact finding research finding…


  • is an important back-up fuel source, a way to store energy for when needed
  • it also helps in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, and essential metabolic functions e.g. brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not pushing a high fat intake, as always moderation is key.

And if your Doc says to pull back, then pull back, our bodies are all different.

But this is to say, let’s understand it, cook well with it and maximise our foods potential.

And in the famous words of Peder Berg… ‘right on’.

Different types and sources of fat

A quick overview of the four different types of fat:

  • Saturated fats
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats
  • Trans fats.

Saturated fats

These fats get a bad rap.

But remember, they can also do good by repairing cells, absorbing nutrients etc

Saturated fats are found in many foods, both sweet and savoury.

Most of them come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products, as well as some plant foods, like palm oil and coconut oil.

Basically, all the foods you love have some saturated fats found on them – cheese, cakes, sausages, fatty cuts of meat, butter

So create balanced diet and buy unprocessed food.

Guidelines on your saturated fat per day intake

See if you are hitting the NHS recommended guidelines.

  • The average man should eat no more than 30 grams of saturated fat daily.
  •  The average woman should have less than 20 grams of saturated fat per day.

Trans fats

Trans fats:

  • artificially created fats used in the manufacture of foods
  • increase shelf life and the flavour-stability of foods
  • are found in fast food, cakes and biscuits
  • are incredibly difficult for your body to process

Unsaturated fats

  • Found primarily in oils from plants and fish
  • Unsaturated fats can be either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.

Monounsaturated fats

  • help protect our hearts by maintaining levels of good cholesterol
  • help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol
  • they’re found in: olive oil, rapeseed oil and their spreads, avocados, some nuts, such as almonds, brazils and peanuts

Polyunsaturated fats

  • help lower the level of bad cholesterol
  • Two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6
    • Omega-6 are found in vegetable oils, such as: rapeseed, corn, sunflower, some nuts
    • Omega-3 are found in oily fish, such as mackerel, kippers

The three roles of fat in cooking

  1. Main ingredient to your dish
  2. Cooking medium
  3. Seasoning

Main ingredient

So, in this case fat can be heart of the rich flavour as well as a particular texture.

For example, the fat in a burger will render as it cooks and adding more flavour and juiciness.

Cooking medium

Animal fats are the best cooking medium as they can be heated to high temperatures without boiling or breaking down – sautéing, deep frying etc.

It also gives your food that lovely browning and will add flavour

Smoking point

  • Vegetable oils begin to smoke around 232°C,
  • Animal fats begin to smoke around 191°C.


Think oils that you use in dressings and mayos.

These give another dimension to your cooking e.g. sesame oil adds a deep rich flavour to a lovely stir fry, cream can add richness and silkiness to a soup and so on.

So, there you have a bit of an overview on fat

So, don’t be put off by it.

Just get the balance right and maximise the different fats for flavour and texture in your cooking.

And remember, if the Doc says pull back on ‘the good stuff’ then choose leaner meat and mince such as beef.

 You get great flavours from flank, tenderloinsirloinfilet mignon or top round roast; (skinless) chicken or pork chops

For more information on the types of fat, health and how to use it for cooking, please check out:


Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking Book by Samin Nosrat