Dietary Fat

What is dietary fat?

Dietary fat is considered a macronutrient and is a significant source of energy for the body. Fats are often grouped into three categories: saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and trans fats.

Saturated fats

  • Typically solid at room temperature
  • Potentially associated with negative health effects, including heart disease

Unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

  • Liquid at room temperature
  • Associated with raising HDL ("good") cholesterol levels while lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of heart disease

Trans fat

  • Raises LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lowers HDL ("good") cholesterol — a dangerous combination

Track Fats with MyFoodDiary

How does the body use fat?

Dietary fat is needed for the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat also provides the body with nine calories of energy per gram of fat. Additionally, the body also uses fat to produce hormones, signal hunger, regulate body temperature, and construct cell membranes.

How much fat do I need in my diet?

Adults should receive 20-35% of their calories from fat. Saturated fats should be limited to 10% of calories, monounsaturated fats should account for 10-15% of calories, and polyunsaturated fats should account for roughly 10% of calories. Artificial trans fats should be completely avoided.

For a typical adult who consumes 2,000 calories per day, the recommendations equate to roughly 44-77 grams of total fats, no more than 22 grams of saturated fats, 22-33 grams of monounsaturated fats, and around 22 grams of polyunsaturated fats.

Are you eating the right amount of fat? Keep a food diary and find out. Track fats!

Which foods are high in fat?

Example Serving Size Fat (g)
Pork Sausage Patties 2 patties 24.0
Cooking Oils 1 tbsp 14.0
Thick Cut Bacon 2 slices 12.0
French Fries 1 small order 11.0
Vanilla Ice Cream 2/3 cup 10.5
Potato Chips 15 chips 10.0
Butter 1 tbsp 11.5

Additional Resources

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