Total Fat Facts


What is Total Fat?

Total fat includes all of the fats in the diet: saturated fats, trans fats, and the unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Fats, along with carbohydrate and protein, are one of the three sources of energy in the body. Fats are a concentrated source of calories. They help the body to use some vitamins, keep the skin healthy, and provide a feeling of fullness after a meal.

Total Fat requirements

There is no individualized RDA for total fat, and neither is there a Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The Daily Reference Intake value (DRI) for fat is set at 30% of total daily calories from fat or 65 grams/day for a healthy person on a 2000 calorie diet. RDAs do exist for two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids: linoleic and a-linolenic acid. Most adults need at least 15% of their daily energy in the form of fat to provide essential fatty acids.

What happens when Total Fat intake is too high?

A high intake of total fat is only a problem when it contributes calories in excess of requirements, which results in weight gain. An excess of saturated fat has been shown to raise blood cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease. For most people, the amount of fat in the diet is not as important as the type of fat. While saturated fat raises the risk of heart disease, high intakes of either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats seem to lower the risk.

What happens when Total Fat intake is too low?

A low fat diet is desirable as long calorie intake is adequate to maintain, lose or gain weight as needed. A very low fat intake could lead to a deficiency of essential fatty acids, but that is extremely rare. Over time, a diet low in total fat could create feelings of chronic hunger and boredom with food because fats provides satiety (a feeling of fullness) as well as food flavor and aroma.

Which foods are high in Total Fat?

High fat foods are fatty cuts of meat, fish and poultry, full fat dairy products like butter, cream, ice cream and cheeses, seeds, nuts, oils, and foods prepared with those ingredients.
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