Fat is a concentrated dietary source of energy, providing 9 calories per gram. It supplies essential fatty acids and carries vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat helps the body to use protein and carbohydrate more efficiently. Fat is a component of cell walls and is essential in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails. It serves to cushion vital organs and insulate the body.Daily Amount Needed:
To promote dietary patterns that support life-long wellness and disease prevention, SparkPeople uses the nutrient ranges set forth by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, The National Academies. Based on research evidence, this organization recommends that dietary fats make up 20-35% of one’s total calories.
There are 3 types of fats found in food: polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and saturated fat. Food sources in the diet are always a blend of these 3 types.
An Additional Note:
- Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats are considered health promoting. They should make up at least 2/3 of the fat in your diet. Foods that contain a high amount of these types of fat include: canola oil, olive oil, vegetable oils, corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and the oils from nuts and seeds (hemp, walnut, sesame, etc). Avocadoes, peanuts, nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters, and fatty fish also contain these types of fat.
- Saturated fats are less healthy and are generally solid at room temperature. They should make up no more than 1/3 of the fat in your diet or less than 7-10% of the total calories. Foods that contain a high amount of saturated fat include: animal fat (lard, beef tallow, poultry fat), butter, cheese, shortening, some margarine, tropical oils, and coconut oil.
When nutrient-rich foods are selected, your SparkPeople macro-nutrient ranges (protein, fat and carbohydrates) help to assure that your complete nutritional needs are met and excessive intake is avoided. These wide ranges also provide greater flexibility in designing meal plans that meet one’s individual preferences. Based on your medical history, medical diagnosis, current condition or exercise/training plan, your nutritional needs may be somewhat different. Consult with your health care team (Physician, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, etc.) for a complete nutritional assessment prior to altering your macro-nutrient ranges.