What is Fat ?
Fat, like protein and carbohydrate, is a
principal and essential component of the diet.
Fat is the body's most concentrated source
of energy. Some dietary fat is vital to enable
the body to function properly. Fat transports
"fat-soluble" vitamins A, D, E and K.
Dietary fats are also a source of fatty acids,
including essential fatty acids which are
necessary to assure good health.
Essential fatty acids must be obtained from
dietary sources (primarily vegetable oils)
because the body cannot make them.
Why Reduce Fat Intake?
Most consumers enjoy the taste, texture and
aroma fat gives to foods. At 9 calories per gram,
fat is the most concentrated source of calories
in the diet; protein and carbohydrates contribute
approximately 4 calories per gram.
Fat consumption among Americans is estimated
at 34 percent of total caloric intake.
This level of fat intake is considered too high
by many public health organizations, which
have agreed that 30% or less of total calories
should be derived from fat, and no more
than 10% from saturated fat.
The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and
Health states: "High intake of total dietary fat is
associated with increased risk for obesity,
some types of cancer, and possibly gallbladder
disease. Epidemiologic, clinical, and animal
studies provide strong and consistent evidence
for the relationship between saturated fat intake,
high blood cholesterol, and increased risk for
coronary heart disease. Excessive saturated fat
consumption is the major dietary contributor to
total blood cholesterol levels."
For certain subgroups (children up to 2 years old
and the elderly) fat reduction may not be
appropriate. For others, such as persons with
serum cholesterol in the "high risk" category,
further dietary fat reduction may be necessary.
Reducing dietary fat has become a major,
if not the primary, dietary goal for many
consumers. With encouragement from health
groups and government agencies, the public
is choosing foods and beverages naturally
low in fat, as well as the fast-growing array
of prepared reduced-fat and non-fat foods
and beverages. The development of a wide
variety of ingredients known as fat replacers
are making these light products possible.
Fatty acids are either saturated or
monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
Saturated fats are mainly found in foods of
animal origin. These include the fats in whole
milk, cream, cheese, butter, meat and poultry.
Saturated fats also can be found in large amounts
in some vegetable products, such as cocoa butter,
coconut oil and palm oil. Saturated fats are
usually solid at room temperature.
Monounsaturated fats are found primarily in
plants, but also are found in animals. Olive,
peanut and canola oil are common examples of
fats high in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Also, most margarines and hydrogenated
vegetable shortenings tend to be high in
monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated
fats are liquid at room temperature.
Polyunsaturated fats are found mostly in plants.
Sunflower, corn, soybean, cotton seed and
safflower oils are vegetable fats that contain a
relatively high proportion of polyunsaturated fats.
Margarines with vegetable oil as the primary
ingredient, and some fish, also are sources of
polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats
usually are liquid at room temperature.
Source: Calorie Control Council