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Diet & Nutrition

A Healthful Diet
Meeting Daily Nutritional Guidelines - Tips
Servings and Serving Sizes
Calcium and Iron
Fruits and Vegetables

Fats & Nutrition
      A very important aspect of nutrition and health is an understanding of fats. Many people incorrectly assume that knowledge of fats and their place in diet and nutrition is important only for those wanting to lose weight. This is not the case. A high fat diet can be the main contributor to a number of chronic, serious health conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, risk of stroke and heart conditions.

Fat is an essential component of a healthful diet. This is why it is important to understand the different types of fats and how they contribute to, or impact, good health and nutrition.

The goal with fats and their role in diet is to keep the total fat intake moderate. Daily fat intake should not exceed 30% of calories. In order to lower fat intake to 30% of calories, aim to reduce foods high in saturated fats and trans fatty acids. Saturated and trans fats increase the risk of coronary artery disease, because they raise blood cholesterol levels. High blood levels of cholesterol can cause the narrowing of arteries and a heightened risk of stroke and heart attack.

The chart below lists desired grams of fat per daily caloric intake.

Total Daily Calories Total Daily Fat (grams) Daily Saturated Fat (grams)
1,600 18 < 53
2,000 20 < 65
2,200 24 < 73
2,500 25 < 80
2,800 31 <93

Types of Fats

1) Saturated Fats

Foods that are high in saturated fats have a tendency to raise blood cholesterol. It is important to keep the amount of saturated fats in your diet low. Foods high in saturated fats include high fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter, ice cream, processed meats, lard and palm or coconut oil.

2) Dietary Cholesterol

High cholesterol foods also tend to raise blood cholesterol. Keep intake of foods high in dietary cholesterol low. Foods high in dietary cholesterol include egg yolks, many dairy products and liver and other organ meats.

3) Trans Fatty Acids

Foods that are high in trans fatty acids also tend to raise blood cholesterol. Keep dietary intake of foods high in trans fatty acids low. Foods high in trans fatty acids include fried foods (particularly fast foods), many shortenings and margarines made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and many baked goodies.

4) Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats (oils) in foods do not raise blood cholesterol. Foods high in unsaturated fats include vegetable oils, olives and most kinds of nuts. Unsaturated fats include both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Examples of foods high in monounsaturated fats include oils such as canola, olive, peanut and sunflower oil. Foods high in polyunsaturated fats include oils such as corn and soybean oil and most types of nuts. Moderate intake of these fats is acceptable. It is important to keep intake moderate, so as to avoid too many calories. These fats are sometimes referred to as good fats or healthy fats, but this is only the case if unsaturated fats represent less that 30% of daily caloric intake.

The U.S. Government's Food and Nutrition Information Center offers detailed information about nutritional guidelines for Americans. The National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases offers excellent resources on nutrition and other health issues.

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