The Fats Guide

It is a common misconception that dietary fat is bad for you and should be avoided at all costs.  In fact, fats are essential for numerous body functions, including cell membrane repair, body warmth, organ protection and energy; some vitamins, appropriately called fat-soluble vitamins, actually need fat to dissolve and be absorbed by your body.  What is important to remember about fats is that some are healthier for you than others – and the types of fats you choose to consume will directly impact your health.

The Fat Rules:

  • 20-35% of your calories should come from fat
  • less than 10% of calories should come from saturated fat. 
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Here's the calorie facts when it comes to fats:
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories
- 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories

Fat contains more than twice as many calories per gram as other macronutrients. But eating healthy fats make you feel fuller longer. 

A diet with a daily calorie intake of 2,000, the average woman should get 45-75 grams of fat per day. Examples of this type of serving could be:

- 1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt contains 4 grams of fat
- 1 slice of Cheddar cheese contains 9 grams of fat
- 1 tbsp of mayo contains 18 grams of fat
- 1/4 cup of almonds contains 10 grams of fat
- 1 tbsp of olive oil contains 14 grams of fat
- half a fillet of salmon contains 7.5 grams of fat

Fats Effect on the Body

Hair: Omega-3 fatty acids help keep your hair shiny, providing fat to the hair shafts and oil to the scalp. 

Heart: Evidence shows unsaturated fats promote heart health because they lower the bad cholesterol (LDL). 

Skin: Fat makes up the cell membranes in your body. Some healthy fats can prevent water loss and help fight inflammation. 

Head: A healthy brain needs fats. Research suggests that omega-3s help improve cognitive function, memory and protect against dementia. 

Eye health: Omega-3 fatty acids may protect your eyes from conditions like age-related macular degeneration which is a disorder that causes vision

GI Tract: Fats help the digestive system absorb nutrients like vitamin A, D, E, K as well as carotenoids which is a healthy pigment and a powerful antioxidant like lycopene and beta-carotene that help fight cancer. 

Fatty food may be seeing a comeback due to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, due out later in 2015. Rumor has it, a number of big changes around dietary fat recommendations may be ahead. 

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which is a panel of 14 experts on the latest scientific evidence on diet and health since the current guidelines were published back in 2010. These guidelines have major effects on how the American public eats. 

The committee decided that limiting the intake of total fat in an individual's diet didn't have a health benefit, however the 2010 guidelines declared no more fat should be 20% to 35% of total daily calories. But the committee is sticking by their recommendation of keeping the intake of saturated fat found in cheese, butter, whole milk and beef to only 10% of total daily calories.