The amount and quality of fats we eat affect health

January 8, 2014, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Healthy adults should get 20 to 35 percent of their calories from dietary fat. You should aim to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, in line with updated guidelines from the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

A paper outlining the effects of fatty acids on adult health was published in the January issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The document contains recommendations for consumers in the field of consumption of fats and fatty acids.

The Academy’s new position is that dietary fat for a healthy adult should provide 20 to 35 percent of energy, with an increased intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids and a reduction in intake of saturated and trans fats. The Academy recommends regular consumption of nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.

Dietitians are trying to help consumers understand that a varied, balanced diet is more beneficial than simply cutting down on fat and replacing it with carbohydrates, as a high intake of refined carbohydrates can also negatively affect health.

The Academy Position Paper is a message to the public about the need to eat right:

• A simple and effective way to improve your health is to eat more nuts and seeds and eat fewer desserts and processed foods. • Fat is an essential nutrient, and certain types of fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are essential for good health. For this and other reasons, a low-fat diet is not recommended. • Seaweed is an excellent source of omega-3s, as are flaxseeds, walnuts, and canola oil. • The amount and type of fat in the diet has a significant impact on health and disease development. • Different foods provide different types of fats. Some fats improve our health (omega-3s help the heart and brain) and some are bad for your health (trans fats increase risk factors for heart disease).  


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