Let’s Talk About Fats
Written by Jessica Lundberg, Mayo Clinic Dietetic Intern
Fat is an important macronutrient and essential in a variety of bodily functions. We need fat to absorb vitamins, and promote blood clotting and brain function. Still, there are a couple of important things to know when using fat in your diet. Consider both amounts and types of fat.
- A little fat provides a lot of calories. If you are trying to manage your weight, be mindful of your portion sizes.
- Saturated fat can cause an increase in blood cholesterol and heart disease risk. Saturated fat is found in red meat, poultry, butter, ice cream, milk, and coconut oil. To decrease your intake of saturated fat, choose lean cuts of meat, remove the skin from poultry, use beans as a protein alternative, consider lower-fat dairy products, and limit portion sizes of desserts and snack foods.
- Trans fat is also linked with increased cholesterol levels and heart disease. Often trans fat is found in processed or fast food. Practice reading food labels to look for foods with 0 grams of trans fat.
- Unsaturated fat is found in fats liquid at room temperature and may actually reduce your risk of heart disease. You can find unsaturated fat in fish, olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and nuts. Replace saturated fats with of this type of fat by using olive oil rather than butter to sauté, eating fish at least twice each week, and choosing portioned servings of nuts as a healthy snack.
By being smart about fat choices and portion sizes, you can help manage your weight and heart disease risk. For more information, visit the Mayo Clinic or the American Heart Association website.