A three-course meal at high street Italian restaurant 'could see you eat double your daily saturated fat allowance'

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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.

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

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.

A branch of Zizz(Lewis Whyld/PA)
(Lewis Whyld/PA)

Meanwhile, using the 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 75g of saturated fat in one meal.

A branch of Pizza Express (Katie Collins/PA)
(Katie Collins/PA)

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."

A spokeswoman for Zizzi said: "We are passionate about providing choice for our customers and creating a menu that is flexible to meet a range of dietary needs.

"Whether you want to indulge, opt for a low calorie dish, choose something from our growing vegan menu or enjoy a glass of reduced sugar Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco we have the flexibility in our menu for our customers to make their own choices.

"We have done and will continue to work to reduce the sugar, salt and sat fat across our menus as part of our ongoing commitment to provide our customers with a great dining experience combined with accessible information that allows people to make the perfect choice for them."

A PizzaExpress spokeswoman said: "Our menu has been designed to offer a wide range of options for everyone, whether enjoying an indulgent treat or a lighter meal.

"Included on our menu are lighter options such as salads and our lighter Leggera range of pizzas which contain less saturated fat and calories than our Romana range.

"We are completely transparent with our nutritional information which can be viewed on our website."

A spokeswoman for Ask Italian said: "We love Italian food and are proud to have a range of dishes on our menu to suit different occasions.

"To help people make an informed decision when they eat with us, we ensure that allergen and nutritional information is readily available to them in restaurant as well as online.

"We are pleased to offer non-gluten, vegan and half portion options so that everyone can find a choice that's right for them."