Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Fat. It seems that in our society, this is a four letter word. Whether we like it or not, it's a big part of our daily decisions about food. So, let's embrace it! What do you know about fat? Here is some basic information to help us all make informed decisions about how we deal with fat in our diet. Knowledge is power!

Is fat good for you? There is one food group in MyPyramid called the oils group. Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Fat is necessary and essential to a healthy diet. However, it is easy to get too much fat in the diet and this can lead to heart disease, obesity, and cancer, especially when you eat too much of the wrong kind of fat. When eating fat, eat small amounts of fat, even oils. They are high in calories.

Some types of fats are okay in the right amounts. Fats we should use are oils like: Canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, oils in fish, nuts and seeds.

Some types of fats are better to limit. These fats are: Butter, lard, stick margarine, fats on meats and poultry, trans fats that are in a lot of prepared foods like some cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, donuts, stick margarines, fried foods, chips, and solid vegetable shortening.

How do I know what kind of fat my food contains?

Check out the Nutrition Facts label! For info on reading labels, click here.

Tips for Limiting Fats:

• Fat intake should be 20-35 percent of total calories with most coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. • Select fat free or low fat dairy products.

• Select fish, nuts and vegetable oils. • Limit snacks and desserts high in fat.

• Read nutrition facts labels. • Less than 10 percent of fat calories should come from saturated fat.

• Choose lean meat and poultry. • Trim fat and remove skin before cooking.

• Choose soft spread margarine and oil rather than solid margarine and shortening.

Can you tell me more about which fats are good or bad and why?

There are 4 major kinds of dietary fat.

Monounsaturated fats – These are mostly oils, meaning they are liquid at room temperature. Famous monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, and avocados. These are considered ‘heart healthy’.

Polyunsaturated fats – These are also liquid at room temperature. These include corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil (more commonly known as vegetable oil), nuts, and seeds.

Saturated fats – These are fats that are solid at room temperature and are usually animal fats such as butter, lard, and the fat in meats. They contain cholesterol and have been linked to heart disease. Palm and coconut oils (both plant oils) are also saturated fats but do not contain cholesterol.

Trans fats – These are fats that start out as liquid oils but are processed to become solid at room temperature. The processing of the fats is called hydrogenation. Trans fats contribute more to heart disease than saturated fats and are known as the really bad fats. Examples of these fats are margarine and shortening. Look for the words ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ on food labels.

As a quick review: Mono and poly unsaturated fats are considered beneficial heart healthy fats while saturated and trans fats are considered to pose a risk for heart disease.

Recipe containing healthy fat: Recipes: VEGGIE BEAN WRAP

How much fat should you get each day?

The answer according to the Dietary Guidelines is: 20 to 35 percent of daily calories should come from fat, with most of these being mono and poly unsaturated fats (for a 2000-calorie-a-day diet that would be between 400 and 700 calories. Example – 2000 x .20 = 400; 2000 x .35 = 700).

Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats a day (less than 200 calories/day). Keep trans fat consumption as low as possible (strive for 0). A person on 2000 calories a day should aim for no more than 6 teaspoons of added fat a day. For instance, a little mayonnaise on your tuna sandwich or the peanut butter on your toast. For a specific measurement of how much fat you should consume each day, click here. For info on the amount of oils in some common foods, click here.


o Choose fat free or low fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and sour cream.

o Choose lean cuts of beef and pork (round or loin cuts) and trim any visible fat from meat.

o Eat more chicken and fish and less red meat, sausage, lunchmeats, and bacon.

o Take the skin off of poultry.

o Bake, steam, broil, grill, or roast foods instead of frying them.

o Add no or very little fat to vegetables. Season with herbs instead of butter or margarine.

o Use more cooked dried beans and have one or more meat free meals per week.

o Cook with nonstick cooking sprays.

o Use butter and margarine sparingly.

o Select soft tub margarines instead of hard stick margarines.

So, what are some of your favorite ways to reduce your fat intake?
A favorite way of mine is to make my own salad dressing! Many of the dressings on the market contain both high calories and fat. I like to either use lowfat cottage cheese to dress up my salad, or try a simple and delicious salad dressing recipe, such as this one. Please share your own ideas in the comment box! We'd love to hear from you!


  1. Phew, I needed that review! Now that I have a child I am striving to see the importance of food and the correct way to nourish my body with it instead nourish my brain out of boredom and quick drive thru's. I try to limit our fat intake by using oils instead of butter on a frying pan and oven dishes. When in the meat section I choose my meats by size it used to be bigger the better more bang for my buck but now I look for little pieces so I don't over indulge on my meat intake every night for dinner.

  2. Very good information! One way I try to reduce my fat intake is by choosing fat-free dressings when I eat a salad, or a sub, or sandwhich or anything that I need to use condiments on. I usually use mustard, or oil & vinger, and stay away from the fatty mayo!