Meet the Fats
Fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones, too. Your body definitely needs fat - but not as much fat as most people eat.
Does my body need fats?
Yes, it does. Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones, too. Your body definitely needs fat – but not as much fat as most people eat.
Do all fats have the same number of calories?
There are nine calories in every gram of fat, regardless of what type of fat it is. That’s a lot of calories compared to carbohydrates and proteins, which contain four calories per gram. Because fats are so energy-dense, consuming high levels of fat – regardless of the type – can lead to taking in too many calories. That can lead to weight gain or being overweight. Consuming high levels of saturated or trans fats can also lead to heart disease and stroke. Health experts generally recommend replacing saturated fats and trans fats with monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats – while still limiting the total amount of fat you consume.
Will eating "good" fats instead of "bad" fats help me loose weight?
No, all fats are equally high in calories relative to carbohydrate and protein. Regardless of the source, if you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight, replace the "bad" fats (saturated and trans fats) with the "better" fats (Monosaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats) to reduce your risk of heart disease. To avoid weight gain, control the total amount of calories you eat.
Are all foods labeled "trans fat-free" good for me?
Not necessarily. Foods labeled "trans-fat free" may still be high in saturated fats and/or low in nutrients. Consider sweets, fatty and salty foods as treats you eat only once in a while. Remember to check the fat content so you can stay within our recommended limits for total, saturated, and trans fats.
How many different fats are there?
There are four major dietary fats in the foods we eat: saturated fats, transfats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. The four types have different chemical structures and physical properties. The bad fats, saturated and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like liquid vegetable oil).
Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. The bad fats, saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed in moderation.
Does eating more healthfully mean giving up my favorite foods?
A healthy diet can include the foods you love. You don’t have to avoid sugary or salty treats entirely, but you do need to eat less of these foods since they’re low in nutrition and high in calories. For practical tips, check out the Nutrtion Center.
Visit www.heart.org for further reading on fats and oils
Information originally from the American Heart Association located at: