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Fats are a vital macronutrient essential for multiple functions in the body. This includes insulation under our skin, cushion between cells, a substrate for nutrient absorption (including Vitamins A, D, E and K), support hormone production, support cell growth and provides us energy (9 calories per gram). There are many types of fats available in our food, some help support these body function and some can contribute to disease. I wanted to provided you with a fairly simplified, straightforward guide all about fats. Again, these recommendations are for those in generally good health.

Unsaturated Fats– Include more of these
Types Sources Function
Monounsaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA) Vegetable Oils: olive, canola, peanut, sunflower, sesame

Avocados, olives

Macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, nut butters

Lower triglycerides and may help prevent heart disease. Also provides substrate for Vitamin absorption.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) Vegetable Oils: soybean, corn, safflower

Fatty Fish: salmon, mackerel, herring,  trout

Walnuts, sunflower seeds

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Vegetable Oils: flaxseed, walnut, canola

Oily fish

Flaxseeds and walnuts

Saturated Fats– Limit these
Types Sources Function

Trans Fat


Crisco, butter, animal fats and (yes) coconut oil & palm oil

Whole milk, full-fat cheese

Foods with “Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils”, including pies, pastries, and cookies

Increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Can increase risk for heart attack or stroke.
Cholesterol Any animal product, including beef, pork, and chicken

How much should I have per day?

Most healthy adults should limit the amount of total fat to 25-30% of their total daily calorie intake. For example, a person on an 1,800 calorie diet should have a total fat intake of around 50-60 grams daily. Saturated fats should be no more than 10% of total daily calories and included in total fat percentage intake. If you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease, limit your saturated fat to less than 7% of your daily calories. For a person eating 1,800 calories per day, the limit is 14 grams of saturated fat. Avoid trans fats as much as possible.

Tips for Eating Less Saturated Fats and Trans Fats

  • Use nonstick pans or cooking sprays instead of butter, margarine, or lard.
  • Replace half of the fat in baked goods with applesauce or low-fat yogurt.
  • Trim visible fat from meat. Remove skin from chicken or turkey.
  • After browning ground meat, drain off the grease and throw it away.
  • Plan at least two meatless dinners per week.
  • Try to include heart-healthy fatty fish once per week.
  • Make your own salad dressing at home using one part unsaturated oil and two parts vinegar.