Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Much Fat You Need

Our calorie intake has risen over the past decades and most of them come from hidden fats and sugars. The average American is consuming about 15% of total calories as saturated fat. It is recommended to keep your saturated fat intake to 10% or less of total calories. Some suggest that it should be in the range of 7% to 10% of total calories. These low amounts of saturated fats are recommended to reduce the production of cholesterol in your body.

In the typical American diet, saturated fats from plant sources represent 30% of total fat. Animal sources contribute about the remaining two thirds. Reducing animal protein, especially those with a high fat content, can help you to reduce your total fat, your calories, and your saturated fat. You need to be weary of the types of fats you are consuming.

Saturated fat is linked with coronary artery disease. Replace at least some of the saturated fat and all trans fats with mono and poly unsaturated fats such as olive and sunflower oil. How can you accomplish this in a practical way? First and foremost, you can reduce high fat animal foods such as red meat and cheese with lower fat foods such as chicken and fish. This is a relatively easy first step. Then I’ll recommend you to replace fat-rich foods (specially saturated fats) with some fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

How Much Fat You Need

There is no standard for fat dietary needs. It is always recommendable to replace high fat foods with vegetables, fruits and unrefined whole grains. Remember to eat some foods with omega 3 fatty acids, however. The American Heart Association suggests eating no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Remember that we really don’t need cholesterol in our diet, as our liver makes enough of it.

The American Cancer Society is more aggressive and encourages a diet that contains only 20% of total calories from lipids to reduce certain types of cancer. I know from my own experience how difficult is to lower fat consumption. It is sometimes recommended by some experts to lower total fat to only 10% of calories. This is really difficult unless you’re vegan.

A moderate and prudent recommendation is that 30% or less of your total calories should be from fat. Those fats should be unsaturated, try to stay away from saturated. Your heart will love you.

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