Nutrition: Fat

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The risks and benefits associated with dietary fats have long been mired in confusion and misunderstanding. How can these nutrients be at the core of the obesity epidemic and deadly chronic diseases — yet still be absolutely essential to life? The answer is not simple because fats are not all alike, nor is any one type of fat single-faceted. Rather, fats are complex nutrients, worthy of your understanding not only to inspire a healthy diet but so you can appreciate how they energize, build, and fortify your body.

Dietary Fats

Also called: Lipids, Monounsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat, Saturated fat

Fat is a type of nutrient. You need some fat in your diet but not too much. Fats give you energy and help your body absorb vitamins. Dietary fat also plays a major role in your cholesterol levels.

But not all fats are the same. You should try to avoid

  • Saturated fats such as butter, solid shortening, and lard
  • Trans fats. These are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). By 2018, most U.S. companies will not be allowed to add PHOs to food.

Try to replace them with oils such as canola, olive, safflower, sesame, or sunflower. Of course, eating too much fat will put on the pounds. Fat has twice as many calories as proteins or carbohydrates.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.