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 amounts to 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 2,800-calorie
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 spreads, dressings, or toppings.
How to check your diet for fat
If you want to be sure you have a lowfat 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
you calorie level.
You don't need to count fat grams every day, but doing
a fat checkup once in awhile will help keep you on the right track. If you
find you are eating too much fat, choose lower fat foods more often.
You can figure the number of grams of fat that provide 30% of calories in
your daily diet as follow:
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 = 660 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 on-third of total fat intake.
All fats in foods are mixtures of three types of fatty acids - saturated,
monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.
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 monounsaturated fat.
Here are some selection tips:
-Use lean meats and skim or lowfat dairy products.
-Use unsaturated vegetable oils
and margarines that list a liquid vegetable oil as first ingredient on the
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 nondairy creamers and
rich baked products such as pie crusts and other pastries, cakes, and