Is Eating Fat Good for You?

Reviewed on 9/22/2021
is eating fat good for you
Eating the right fat in the right amount is good for you. Learn about good fats vs. bad fats, benefits, and recommended daily intake

Eating the right fat in the right amount is good for you. Fats are essential in:

  • Providing energy to the body
  • Building nerve tissue
  • Synthesizing of hormones
  • Controlling inflammation
  • Absorbing vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Increasing satiety to avoid overeating
  • Reducing the glycemic load that each snack or meal exerts, which avoids spiking and subsequent crashing of blood sugar levels

Fats can be classified as good or bad:

  • Good fats: Monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Bad fats: Saturated fats and trans fats

What are the benefits of eating good fats?

Good fats can lower total cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack and inflammation. Benefits include:

What are sources of good fats?

  • Olive, canola, peanut, and sesame oils
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Peanut butter
  • Sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines) and fish oil
  • Soybean and safflower oil
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu

What are bad fats to avoid?

  • Commercially baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, and pizza dough
  • Packaged snack foods, such as crackers, microwave popcorn, and chips
  • Stick margarine, vegetable shortening, butter, and lard
  • Fried foods, such as French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and breaded fish
  • Any product containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, even if it claims to be “trans fat-free”
  • Red meat, such as beef, lamb, and pork
  • Chicken skin
  • Whole-fat dairy products, such as milk, cream, and cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oil

How much fat do I need each day?

Even though fats are essential, it is important to limit the amount. However, never cut down your fat intake or replace them with refined carbohydrates.

About 30% of calories should be obtained from fats. For example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, you can have 44-77 grams of fat per day. Saturated fats (bad fats) should constitute about 7% of the daily calories. Less than 1% of fats should come from trans fats. So if your daily diet consists of 2,000 calories, you should include only 15 grams of saturated fats and two grams of trans fat.

Recommended dietary intake for different types of fat is as follows:

  • Monounsaturated fat: 15%-20%
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 5%-10%
  • Saturated fat: Less than 10%
  • Trans fat: Less than 1%
  • Cholesterol: Less than 300 mg per day

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References
Cleveland Clinic. Fat: What You Need to Know. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11208-fat-what-you-need-to-know

American Academy of Family Physicians. Dietary Fats: What’s Good and What’s Bad. https://familydoctor.org/dietary-fats-whats-good-and-whats-bad/

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