|Fats - Where It's At
|How much fat can I have?
It depends on your calorie needs. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans limit fat in
their diets to 30 percent of calories. This works out to no more than 53 grams of fat in a
1,600-calorie diet, 73 grams of fat in a 2,200-calorie diet, and 93 grams of fat in a
You will get up to half this fat even if you pick the lowest fat choice from each good group
and add no fat to your foods in preparation or at the table.
You decide how to use the additional fat in your daily diet. You may want to have foods from the
five major food groups that are higher in fat - such as whole milk instead of skim milk. Or you
may want to use it in cooking or at the table in the form of oils, spreads, or toppings.
| How to check your diet for fat
If you want to be sure you have a low-fat diet, you can count the grams of fat in your day's
food choices using the Pyramid Food Choices Chart, and compare them to the number of grams of
fat suggested for your calorie level.
You do not need to count fat grams every day, but doing a fat checkup once in a while will help
keep you on the right track. If you find you are eating too much fat, choose lower fat foods
You can figure the number of grams of fat that provide 30% of calories in your daily diet as
A. Multiply your total day's calories by 0.30 to get your calories from fat per day.
Example: 2,200 calories x 0.30 = 600 calories from fat.
B. Divide calories from fat per day by 9 (each gram of fat has 9 calories) to get grams of fat
per day.Example: 660 calories from fat ÷ 9 = 73 grams of fat.
|Are some types of fat worse than others?
Yes. Eating too much saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels in many people, increasing
their risk for heart disease. The Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat to less
than 10 percent of calories, or about one-third of total fat intake.
All fats in foods are mixtures of three types of fatty acids - saturated, monounsaturated,
Saturated fats are found in largest amounts in fats from meat and dairy product and in
some vegetables fats such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils.
Monounsaturated fats are found mainly in olive, peanut, and canola oils.
Polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, and
cottonseed oils and some fish.
How do I avoid too much saturated fat?
Follow the Food Guide Pyramid, keeping your total fat within recommended (See the table for
the number of grams suggested at various calorie levels). Choose fat from a variety of food
sources, but mostly from those foods that are higher in polyunsaturated or mono- unsaturated fat.
|Here are some selection tips:
»Use lean meats and lowfat dairy products.
»Use unsaturated vegetable oils and margarines
that list a liquid vegetable oil as first ingredient on the label.
»Read nutrition and ingredient labels on food packages
to check the kinds and amounts of fat they contain.
»Limit use of products that contain a large amount of
saturated fats. Examples are coconut milk and rich baked products such as pie crusts and other
pastries, cakes, and cookies.
What about cholesterol?
Cholesterol and fat are not the same thing.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance present in all animal foods - meat, poultry, fish, milk and
milk products, and egg yolks. Both the lean and fat of meat and skin of poultry contain
cholesterol. In milk products, cholesterol is mostly in the fat, so lower fat products
contain less cholesterol. Egg yolks and organ meats, like liver, are high in cholesterol. Plant
foods do not contain cholesterol.
Dietary cholesterol, as well as saturated fat, raises blood cholesterol levels in many people,
increasing their risk for heart disease. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that dietary cholesterol
be limited to 300 mg or less per day. To keep dietary cholesterol to this level, follow the
Food Guide Pyramid, keeping your total fat to the amount that is right for you.
It's not necessary to eliminate all foods that are high in cholesterol. You can have three to
four egg yolks a week, counting those used as in custards, baked goods and omelettes. Use lower
fat dairy products often and occasionally include dry beans and peas in place of meat.
|Where's the Cholesterol?