Some facts on fats you didn’t know
Fats are important for good health and proper functioning of the body. They are a source of energy, essential fats and enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. However, too much fat and/or the wrong type of fat may negatively affect our health. Fats also give foods a particular texture, appearance, and flavor.
Why should we eat fats?
Eating sufficient amounts of the right types of fats is important for a number of reasons. Dietary fats are a major source of energy for our bodies and are structural components of our body cells. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K cannot be absorbed by the body without the help of fats. Some fats (e.g. omega-3 and omega-6) are essential as the body cannot produce them and therefore need to be obtained through diet. They are needed for vital processes such as the brain, eye and heart function, growth and development.
How much fat should we eat?
Adults should get a recommended 20-35% of their energy intake from fat. That means that a moderately active woman, with a daily energy intake of 2,000 kcal, should eat between 44 g and 78 g of fat per day. For men with a daily energy intake of 2,500 kcal, they should eat between 55 g and 97 g of fat per day. It is generally recommended that less than 10% of total energy intake should come from saturated fat, 22 g for women and 28 g for men. The rest should come from the unsaturated fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. It is recommended that trans fats should be eaten as little as possible, and make up no more than 1% of total energy intake. This is equal to less than 2 g for women and less than 3 g for men.
Does eating fat make us fat?
Weight gain is not related to one single nutrient but is based on the total daily energy intake and the balance between energy intake and energy use. Eating more calories than the body needs leads to the excess calories being stored as body fat regardless of the source of these calories (fat, protein or carbohydrate). It is the overall energy balance that counts.
However, fats are high in energy: 1 gram of fat contains 9 kcal – more than twice the calories of 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein (4 kcal/g each). Therefore, foods that contain a lot of fat provide relatively more energy when compared to low-fat foods and we should be mindful not to overconsume these foods.