Friday, March 8, 2013

Article # 368. Dietary fats: Know which types to choose


Dietary fats: Know which types to choose
A word about cholesterol
Cholesterol isn't a fat. Rather, it's a waxy, fat-like substance. Your body manufactures some cholesterol. Your body also absorbs some dietary cholesterol — cholesterol that's found in foods of animal origins, such as meat and eggs. Cholesterol is vital because, among other important functions, it helps build your body's cells and produces certain hormones. But your body makes enough cholesterol to meet its needs — you don't need any dietary cholesterol.
Excessive cholesterol in your diet can increase your unhealthy LDL cholesterol level, although not as much as saturated fat does. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Most foods that contain saturated fat also contain cholesterol. So cutting back on these foods will help decrease both saturated fat and cholesterol. The exception to this is tropical oils, which are high in saturated fat but contain no cholesterol.

Recommendations for fat intake
Because some dietary fats are potentially helpful and others potentially harmful to your health, it pays to know which ones you're eating and whether you're meeting national recommendations. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, issued by the Department of Agriculture, offer recommendations about dietary fat intake.
Here's a look at the recommendations and common sources of each type of dietary fat. Be aware that many foods contain different kinds of fat and varying levels of each type. For example, butter contains unsaturated fats, but a large percentage of the total fat is saturated fat. And canola oil has a high percentage of monounsaturated fat but also contains smaller amounts of polyunsaturated and saturated fat.
Recommendations for dietary fat and cholesterol intake
Type of fat
Recommendation
Major food sources
Total fat
This includes all types of dietary fat. Limit total fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories. Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, this amounts to about 44 to 78 grams of total fat a day.
Plant- and animal-based foods.
Monounsaturated fat
While no specific amount is recommended, the guidelines recommend eating foods rich in this healthy fat while staying within your total fat allowance.
Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, poultry, nuts and seeds.
Polyunsaturated fat
While no specific amount is recommended, the guidelines recommend eating foods rich in this healthy fat while staying within your total fat allowance.
Vegetable oils (such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils), nut oils (such as peanut oil), poultry, nuts and seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids
While no specific amount is recommended, the guidelines recommend eating foods rich in this healthy fat while staying within your total fat allowance.
Fatty, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), ground flaxseed, flax oil and walnuts.
Saturated fat
Limit saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of your total calories. Limit to 7 percent to further reduce your risk of heart disease. Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, a 10 percent limit amounts to about 22 grams of saturated fat a day, while 7 percent is about 15 grams. Saturated fat intake counts toward your total daily allowance of fat.
Cheese, pizza, grain-based desserts, and animal products, such as chicken dishes, sausage, hot dogs, bacon and ribs. Other sources: lard, butter, and coconut, palm and other tropical oils.
Trans fat
No specific amount is recommended, but the guidelines say the lower the better. Avoid trans fat from synthetic (processed) sources. It's difficult to eliminate all trans fats because of their presence in meat and dairy foods. The American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat to no more than 1 percent of your total daily calories. For most people, this is less than 2 grams a day.
Margarines, snack foods and prepared desserts, such as cookies and cakes. Naturally occurring sources include meat and dairy products.
Cholesterol
Less than 300 milligrams a day. Less than 200 milligrams a day if you're at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eggs and egg dishes, chicken dishes, beef dishes and hamburgers. Other sources: Seafood, dairy products, lard and butter.


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