What is fat?
Fats are an essential part of the diet. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A
, could not be absorbed without some fat in the diet. Fat also supplies the body with energy. It contains more energy than any other nutrient (9 calories per gram).
There are different types of fat, including saturated fats and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are normally solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are liquid. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids (trans fats) are associated with negative health effects, including heart disease. On the other hand, unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) may actually lower the risk for some diseases, including some cancers and heart disease. In addition, mono and polyunsaturated fats actually raise good cholesterol levels while lowering bad cholesterol.
How does our body use fat?
As previously mentioned, the body uses fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Fat also supplies energy to our body, cushions organs, insulates us, and is used to build cell membranes.
How much fat do I need in my diet?
Most adults should receive fewer than 30% of their calories from fat. For example, most adults who consume 2000 calories per day should limit their fat intake to 65g. The American Dietetics Association (ADA) recommends limiting total calories from saturated fat to 7-10%. Monounsaturated fats should account for 10-15% of total calories and roughly 10% of total calories should come from polyunsaturated fat. Trans fat should be avoided.
Which foods contain a high percentage of fat?
Most foods contain a mix of unsaturated and saturated fats. We should try to eat foods low in saturated and trans fats while focusing on foods with higher levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. The following chart can help you choose better sources of fat.
|Saturated Fat||Trans Fat||Mono- unsaturated Fat|
|• Red Meat||• Margarine||• Olive Oil|
|• Coconut Oil||• Imitation Cheese||• Canola Oil|
|• Butter||• Cakes, Cookies||• Peanut Oil|
|• Palm Oil||• Doughnuts||• Peanuts|
|• Whole Milk||• Crackers||• Almonds|
|• Ice Cream||• Meats/Dairy||• Cashews|
|• Cheese||• Snack Chips||• Avocados|
|• Chocolate||• Peanut Butter|| |
|• Seafood||• Deep-Fried Food|| |
|• Fish||• Safflower Oil||• Soybean Oil|
|• Corn Oil||• Fish Oil||• Cottonseed Oil|
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