Healthy Eating Diet Plan – The Fat on Fat!

There is still so much confusion over the consumption of dietary fat. Should you consume a high-fat diet, low-fat diet or fat-free diet? If your goal is to develop a healthy eating diet plan, you should understand that dietary fat is an important part of a healthy diet. Your body actually needs fat and you could not survive without it.  But all fat is not created equal.

Why do you need dietary fat?

Fat is needed in your diet as an energy source, for the absorption of and for supplying fat-soluble vitamins and for supplying essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid, which is needed for cholesterol metabolism. The majority of fat in your body is stored in adipose tissue also known as cellular fat, which cushions and insulates vital organs in your body.

How much dietary fat?

The recommendations below are from the “Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2010” for total fat intake.  It is also recommended that you consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats.

Age Group Total Fat Limits
Children ages 2 to 3 30% to 40% of total calories
Children and adolescents ages 4 to 18 25% to 35% of total calories
Adults, ages 19 and older 20% to 35% of total calories

Two health risks associated with low dietary fat intake

Insufficient Vitamin Absorption

Consuming a diet too low in fat can obstruct the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Because these nutrients are fat soluble, meaning they dissolve in dietary fat, your body needs fat to utilize them.  Vitamin A is important for good eyesight, vitamin D for the health of you bones, K for blood clotting, and E for restricting the formation of harmful free radicals.  If you’re not eating enough fat to transport these vitamins into your body, they will just pass through you, potentially putting you at risk for vitamin deficiency.

Overeating

If you are trying to lose weight and only choose low-fat or fat-free foods, you could be sabotaging your weight-loss attempts. The problem is many of these foods contain added sugars and preservatives to improve taste, but often contain the same amount of calories as the original food item. Consequently, you may believe that these foods are healthier or lower in calories and overeat. In addition, fat adds flavor to foods so when it is missing, you may eat more of the low fat or fat free versions to feel satisfied.

Which fat to eat?

While fats are essential for your body to function, some fats are better for you than others. Trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil, formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oil turning it into solid fat) and saturated fats, the “solid” fats, are less healthy than polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trans fat increases low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol, which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Likewise, saturated fat has also been linked to coronary heart disease in addition to other chronic diseases.

Most of the fat that you consume should come from unsaturated food sources, such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, says the CDC. Nuts, vegetable oils, and fish are sources of unsaturated fats.

Reference:

KidsHealth.org: Learning About Fats

http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/food/fat.html#

MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fats: Know Which Types To Choose

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fat/NU00262

Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2010

http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/publications/dietaryguidelines/2010/policydoc/policydoc.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nutrition for Everyone: Dietary Fat

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/fat/unsaturatedfat.html

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