is one of three macro-nutrients (the others being protein and carbohydrate) that are essential to power and maintain the body. Good fats are needed to nourish your heart, brain, nervous system, produce hormones, and create new cells, hair, skin, and nails.
Dietary fat is a form of lipid and is often used to refer to lipids in solid form, and oil in liquid form. From a nutrition standpoint, fats are things like oil, butter, and animal fat.
Daily Diet Tracking
Most foods contain several different kinds of fats. The ones we most commonly think about are saturated, trans, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. MealMixer diet planners
calculate how much fat you need based on your diet, and tracks all of your fats for you, giving visual cues when you have exceeded the fat allowance (based on your selected diet), and lets you know the proportion of fat types by dish, meal and a weekly average.
It's important to limit the following fats, because they can increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol:
Saturated fats, which come from animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products), coconut, palm and other tropical oils.
Trans fats, which come from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, (commonly found in commercial baked goods), fried foods, shortening and margarine.
If used in place of saturated and trans fats, the following fats can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and LDL cholesterol:
Monounsaturated fats, which come from olive, peanut, and canola oils, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats, which come from vegetable oils (like safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils), nuts and seeds.
Trans-fats raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol which increases your risk of heart disease. It also lowers HDL (good cholesterol). So this is a double-whammy fat that should be avoided. You'll find trans-fats in vegetable shortenings, margarines, commercial candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods that are formulated with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which come from salmon, mackerel and herring, flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts may be especially beneficial to your heart and appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.
It's hard to remember which fats are the good ones, so just remember that if it's solid at room temperature (like butter or shortening), it's not a "good" fat and needs to be consumed in moderation.
A low fat diet works for weight loss because there are 9 calories in one gram of fat, as compared to 4 calories in one gram of protein or carbohydrate. A diet too low in fat may lead to over-eating either because of not feeling satisfied or full, or because of rationalizing. A one ounce portion of baked potato chips may only have 1.5 grams of fat, but it still has 130 calories. The same portion of regular potato chips has 10 grams of fat and 150 calories, not a significant caloric difference. It's easier to overeat the reduced fat chips by thinking that they aren't as impactful on the diet. However, if the fat in question is one of the "bad" fats, it's best to opt for the healthier version and exercise control.
Using a MealMixer Diet Planner
allows you to edit any recipe to use healthier fats, and control the overall fat in your meals.
The amount of fat you should have in your healthy diet
depends on several factors including your age and activity level. Use our diet calculator
to determine what might be best for you.