Fat is an essential macronutrient that is a vital part of a healthy diet. Not all fats found in food are the same, and the type and amount of fat you eat is important. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are two types of unsaturated fats that are associated with good health. You can obtain adequate amounts of unsaturated fats daily from a variety of healthy foods.
Fats provide energy for the body because they contain 9 calories for every gram. Fat is necessary for the development and production and maintenance of many parts of the body. Brain development, hormone production, blood clotting and skin maintenance are some of the functions that rely on the presence of fat in the body. Fat is also vital for the transportation and absorption of specific vitamins called the fat-soluble vitamins. Consuming unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats is associated with improved blood cholesterol levels and reduced risk for heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends a diet that includes 25 to 35 percent of total calories from fat. The majority of those calories should come from unsaturated fat. If you consume 2000 calories daily, aim for 40 to 62 grams of unsaturated fat per day. Less than 7 percent of those calories, which is equivalent to about 16 grams, should come from saturated fats. Your fat requirements may vary based on different health factors and activity levels. Consult a registered dietitian for your personalized nutritional requirements.
Unsaturated fats are abundant in many plant-based foods and certain fish. Common sources of polyunsaturated fat include vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower, sesame and cottonseed oil. A variety of nuts and seeds are also sources of polyunsaturated fat. Examples include almonds, walnuts and flax seeds. Fish rich in unsaturated fat include cod, herring, trout, tuna and salmon. You can find monounsaturated fat in avocados, olive oil, canola oil and many nuts and seeds. Many of these foods also provide sources of essential fatty acids known as omega-3s.
Saturated fat is found in many animal products such as meats, poultry, dairy and lard. In addition to limiting saturated fat, you should also avoid trans fat, found in foods like margarine, desserts, processed foods and commercially baked goods. At the grocery store, check the fat and total calorie content of foods to remain within your recommended fat intake. Always choose foods with the least amount of saturated and trans fat.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.