Improving nutrition

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Partnership For The Goals

Providing good fats

We’ve eliminated trans fats and are using good fats in our products.

Providing good fats

The two sides of fat

Fat is an essential part of the diet as it helps the body absorb certain nutrients, and provides us with energy and a source of essential fatty acids. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 20% and 35% of our energy intake should come from fats. The majority should be unsaturated fat, with a minority being saturated.

Fat is also an essential ingredient to add flavour and texture to the foods we eat. However, too much saturated fat can increase the risk of developing heart disease. The Global Nutrition Report 2018 confirms that to eat a healthy diet, we should limit foods and beverages high in saturated fats. Instead, people should opt for unsaturated fats or some healthier oils, like those found in fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, sunflower, canola and olives. And we should try to eliminate trans fats from our diets altogether.

Using polyunsaturated fat from plant-based oils

Providing good fats infographic

One of our original Unilever Sustainable Living Plan targets was to reduce saturated fat in our Spreads products. We divested our Spreads business in 2018 and no longer track this target, but we continue to use good oils in our mayonnaise and salad dressings. We use plant-based oils – or a blend – like soybean, canola, rapeseed, avocado, sunflower and olive oil which contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

We also continue to decrease saturated fat in our other products, such as in our ice creams as part of our calorie reduction programme. As well as reducing saturated fats in our products, we are committed to encouraging people to make healthier choices through clear labelling and balanced portions.

Spotlight

Hellmanns Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise made with good oils

Since 1913, when Richard Hellmann created the now legendary Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, we’ve been making our mayonnaises with good oils like canola.

In 2018, we introduced our new mayonnaise range in the US and Canada, and rolled this out to eight countries across Europe in 2019. The products are a source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fat and comply with our Highest Nutritional Standards.

Hellmann's Avocado Oil Mayonnaise, for example, contains 100% good oils. Each jar contains more than one creamy, fresh avocado, with a hint of citrus to bring a surprising twist to the flavour. The mayonnaise is high in omega 3, contains 40% less calories than full-fat mayonnaise, and contains no artificial colours or flavours.

“As well as providing the health benefits of good oils, Hellmann’s Avocado Oil Mayonnaise is also gluten-free, suitable for vegetarians and made with free-range eggs,” explains Erica van der Linden, Global R&D Project Leader. “It meets our Highest Nutrition Standards for salt and comes in recyclable packaging.”

This work contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goal

  • Good Health and Wellbeing)

Taking action on trans fats

Trans fats (also known as ‘trans fatty acids’), elevate ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and lower ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol. Health experts recommend that we should reduce our intake of trans fats, to as low a level as possible, to help prevent heart disease.

Trans fats are found naturally in butter, cheese and meat. In the food industry, a process called hydrogenation is sometimes used to convert vegetable oils into solid fats for greater functionality, stability and shelf life. When a fat is partially hydrogenated, this process produces trans fats. Importantly, however, full hydrogenation does not result in trans fat production. In 2012, we succeeded in removing trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils from across our portfolio to less than 1 g per 100 g product, both in retail and foodservice – see our position statement (PDF | 800KB).

To promote transparency, we’ve published our definition and approach to removing trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. While we achieved our goal, we have more work to do to minimise industrially produced trans fats in our products. As one of the IFBA member companies, we align with the WHO recommendation that industrially produced trans fat should not exceed 2 g per 100 g of total fat or oil in all foods. We aim to achieve this worldwide by 2023 at the latest.

Spotlight

instant noodles

Introducing a healthier version of instant noodles

Instant noodles are a must-have in the kitchen for many people who like a quick fix for their meals and snacks, to fit in with their busy lifestyles. Most noodles are fried with palm oil and are relatively high in saturated fat. This is not compliant with our Highest Nutrition Standards (HNS).

We’ve been working on a solution which involves blending palm oil with other oils, such as sunflower oil, to lower the saturated fat content. We also lowered the salt content, making them even healthier. In early 2020, we introduced Knorr Quick Noodles containing this blend of oils and they are currently available in four flavours (chicken, beef, curry and hot tomato).

“The huge success of this project is that we’ve been able to develop Unilever’s first HNS compliant noodle, and we’re able to claim that they are low in saturated fat on-pack,” explains Sinem Gedik, R&D Technical Project Leader. “We believe they could be the lowest saturated fat fried noodles globally, but we know for sure that’s the case in Turkey where we’ve launched this product. We plan to introduce it to other countries in the coming months to make our global noodles portfolio HNS compliant.”

This work contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goal

  • Good Health and Wellbeing)
Back to top

Connect with us

We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.

Contact us

Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters, or find contacts around the world.

Contact us