Saturated fat warning over meals from popular Italian restaurants

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Having a meal at some high street Italian restaurants could lead to women consuming about four days’ worth of saturated fat, a charity has warned.

And eating some three-course meals at popular Italian restaurants could lead to men eating twice the recommended daily amount of saturated fat, Heart UK said.

Health experts recommend that women should eat no more than 20g of saturated fat a day, while the maximum recommended amount for men is 30g.

But cholesterol charity Heart UK analysed a number of high street menus by picking a starter, main and dessert, particularly looking for ones with higher levels of saturated fat.

At Ask Italian, it found that having an antipasto classico board for one to start, a linguine carbonara for a main course and a chocolate lava mountain for dessert would lead to the consumption of 80g of saturated fat.

Meanwhile, using the June 2016 nutritional information guide available through the website of the restaurant chain Zizzi, Heart UK found that having a starter of fonduta formaggi a main of zucca rustica pizza and a dessert of vanilla pannacotta could lead to a person consuming 82g of saturated fat in one meal.

However, the restaurant chain has since produced a new nutritional information sheet for autumn/winter 2016/17 which states that the zucca rustica pizza has about 28g of saturated fat - 7g fewer than quoted in the June 2016 nutritional guide - which means eating such a meal would lead to the consumption of a total of 75g of saturated fat.

And, according to nutritional information from the PizzaExpress website, opting for a portion of calamari to start, a main meal of American hottest Romana 65 pizza and a honeycomb cream slice for pudding would lead to the consumption of 72.5g of saturated fat.

Heart UK dietetic adviser Linda Main said: “The saturated fat content of these meals is incredibly high and will shock customers who are unwittingly eating over four times the acceptable daily amount.

“While we accept that most restaurants now offer healthier options, it does not excuse them from making these extremely unhealthy options available. Many of the meals were also excessively high in energy, sugar and salt as well as saturated fat.

“Regularly eating more energy and saturated fat than our bodies need can lead to obesity and unhealthy cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and the chance of an early heart attack or stroke.”