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 diet.

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 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 nondairy creamers and rich baked products such as pie crusts and other pastries, cakes, and cookies.


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