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Nutrition and Diet (cont.)

Dietary Guidelines for Fat

The following are Dietary Guidelines for fat:

  • Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
  • Keep total fat intake between 20%-35% of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
  • When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
  • Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.

The following are Dietary Reference Intakes for fat consumption:

  • Adults should get 20%-35% of their calories from fat.
  • Infants and younger children should get 25%-40% of calories from fat.
  • The report doesn't set maximum levels for saturated fat, cholesterol, or trans fatty acids, as increased risk exists at levels above zero; however, the recommendation is to eat as little as possible while consuming a diet adequate in important other essential nutrients.
  • Recommendations are made for linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and for alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid).

Dietary fat is a necessary nutrient in our diet. Many people have turned to fat-free products, assuming that they are healthier, but this is not always the case. Fat-free products are often high in sugar. You may find that you actually need to increase the amount of fat that you consume. You will need to cut back on another nutrient to avoid going above your calorie needs. It is also important to focus on the kinds of fat that you are consuming. Making the change from consumption of saturated and trans fat to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats could be lifesaving.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2014

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