Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Low-fat eating

Fat is a major source of fuel for our bodies. It also provides our body with important vitamins and essential fatty acids.

Fat is usually important as part of a healthy diet but there may be times when you need to follow a low-fat diet. This may be because you're having trouble digesting or absorbing fat or you have gallstones or pancreatitis.

Foods very high in fat

Some foods are very high in fat, and you should avoid them or only eat them occasionally:

Tips for eating less fat

If you need to follow a low-fat diet, it’s important that you eat a wide variety of foods. This will help ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. The table below shows which foods you can include and which foods you should avoid or limit.

If you're having difficulty maintaining your weight on a low-fat diet, or you're concerned you're missing out on some nutrients, talk to your general practice team. They can refer you to a dietitian.

Foods to include or avoid on a low-fat diet

Food Group

Lower fat - include

High fat – avoid or limit

Bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles

  • Breakfast cereals with less than 10 g fat per 100 g cereal
  • Plain breads including white, wholemeal, wholegrain and rye
  • Fruit loaf
  • Plain boiled pasta, low fat noodles (for example, vermicelli, Hokkien, wheat noodles and udon) and rice
  • Plain sweet biscuits or low-fat savoury crackers
  • Toasted cereals or muesli
  • Cereals containing coconut, seeds or nuts
  • Turkish or focaccia bread
  • Croissants, donuts, muffins, pastries, cakes, muesli bars, chocolate or cream biscuits
  • Fried rice or instant noodles
  • Pasta dishes with cream or cheese sauces


  • All fresh, frozen or tinned fruit except avocado and olives
  • Avocado and olives


  • All vegetables (steamed, raw, boiled or baked without fat)
  • Vegetables cooked in fat (for example, chips and roast veges)
  • Salads with creamy or oily dressing

Milk and milk products

  • Green, yellow or light-blue top milk (fresh, powdered or long life)
  • Low-fat plant-based milk (for example, almond, lite soy or rice)
  • Low-fat evaporated milk
  • Low-fat yoghurt, ice-cream or custard
  • Low-fat ricotta or cottage cheese
  • Small amounts of reduced-fat cheese (for example, Edam, Noble, Parmesan or feta)
  • Dark-blue top milk
  • Regular soy milk
  • Oat milk
  • Coconut cream, milk or yoghurt
  • Fresh cream or sour cream
  • Evaporated or condensed milk
  • Full cream or Greek yoghurt, ice-cream or custard
  • Cream cheese or cheese spread
  • Full-fat cheeses

Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds

  • Lean meat with all visible fat trimmed
  • Chicken with no skin
  • Lean mince or mince boiled with fat drained
  • Eggs – poached, boiled or scrambled with no added fat
  • Lean sandwich meats (chicken, turkey or ham)
  • Fish and seafood – grilled, poached or baked
  • Tinned fish in brine or spring water, 98% fat-free flavoured tuna or salmon
  • Legumes (for example, baked beans, chickpeas, hummus and lentils)
  • Tofu
  • Fatty meats (for example, sausages, salami, bacon, luncheon and canned corned beef)
  • Fried chicken, chicken nuggets or chicken Kiev
  • Crumbed or battered fish
  • Oily fish (for example, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna)
  • Tinned fish in oil
  • Fried eggs
  • Fried tofu
  • All nuts and nut butters

Fats and oils

  • Limit extra fat to 1 tablespoon per day (includes butter, margarine or spread, cooking oils, mayonnaise, Copha, ghee, lard and oily salad dressings)
  • Butter, margarine or spread, cooking oils, mayonnaise, Copha, ghee, lard and oily salad dressings

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created June 2022.


Page reference: 1011898

Review key: HIHEI-34305