Certain fats should be part of your healthy diet. They can lower your risk of disease. But you should make sure that you’re eating “good” fats instead of “bad” fats.
Your body uses fat for energy. It also uses fat to build nerve tissue and hormones and to control inflammation. Fat also helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K from the foods you eat.
But consuming too much fat can contribute to obesity. Fat calories turn into body fat more easily than carbohydrates or proteins. Fat in your diet can confuse your appetite, so you can't tell when you are full. Some fats also raise your total cholesterol and blood pressure, and may increase your risk of some cancers, heart disease and diabetes.
Fat contains 9 calories per gram – more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein, which have 4 calories per gram. Everyone has different calorie needs. Your doctor can help you figure out how many calories you need and how many of these can come from fat.
If you are overweight, the American Heart Association recommends that you get less than 30% of your total calories from fat. So, if your body needs 2,000 calories a day, you can have up to 65 grams of fat each day.
Limit or avoid these fats:
The American Heart Association recommends that you get less than 7% of your total calories from saturated fats and less than 1% from trans fats. So, if your body needs 2,000 calories a day, you should eat less than 15 grams of saturated fat and less than 2 grams of trans fat.
Studies have shown that these fats, if used in place of saturated fat, can help you lower your total cholesterol level. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial—studies have shown that they can also decrease your risk of inflammation or heart attack if you are at risk for heart disease.
You don’t have to cut all fat out of your diet, but you should limit the amount of fat you eat. Try to eat foods made with unsaturated fat and avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats. Other things you can do include:
This content was developed with general underwriting support from Nature Made®.
American Heart Association. Know Your Fats. Accessed May 12, 2010
How Many Grams of Trans-Fat Are Recommended per Day? by Marcason W (Journal of the American Dietetic Association September 01, 2006)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff