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Fats and Oils in Healthy Weight Loss Diet

Best Fats and Oils For Weight Loss

If you want to reduce weight and stay healthy on a calorie-controlled diet, it’s important to include the right amount of fat in your eating plan, and choose the best types of oils. The main fats to avoid are saturated fat and trans fats. Excessive intake of saturated fat or trans-fats is a major cause of coronary heart disease. The safest, most nutritious fat source of vitamins and minerals, is unrefined vegetable and fish oils.

Nutritional Value of Dietary Fat

Food fats, typically comprising carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in varying proportions, are an important source of nutrients and micronutrients. They often contain the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and a few (eg. flaxseed oil/linseed oil) supply omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids for added health benefits. Fats act as building blocks of membranes and regulate a number of essential biochemical functions.

Fat is Calorie-Dense

Because fats and oils are calorie-dense and contain twice the usual amount of calories, excessive intake of fat may lead to weight gain. Watch out especially for invisible fats in fast foods, including dressings. When adding fat to food, remember that 1 tbsp of any oil contains approximately 120 calories, while 1 tsp of butter/margarine contains about 35 calories.

Plant Oils: Nutrition and Fat Content

All plant oils are good sources of unsaturated fats and the antioxidant micronutrient vitamin E. They also increase the body’s absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K. Flaxseed oil, pumpkin oil, walnut and canola (rapeseed) oil contain the highest proportion of omega-3 essential fatty acid, while safflower, sunflower and corn oil contain the most omega-6 essential fatty acids. Olive oil is one of the richest sources of monounsaturates. For optimum dietary health and nutritional value, choose organic, unprocessed oils.

How Much Fat To Eat in a 1600 Calorie Weight Loss Diet

Whatever your calorie-intake, dietitians and nutritionists recommend a maximum total fat intake of about 30 percent of calories, for adults. On a 1600 calorie diet, 30 percent of calories from fat means eating 53 grams of fats. For patients with elevated levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, or LDL cholesterol, a lower intake of fat – typically 20 percent of calories – is usually recommended.

Fats To Reduce in Your Diet

Whether you want to lose or maintain weight, the latest Dietary Guidelines (2005) emphasise the need to reduce your intake of saturated fat (found mostly in animal foods) and trans fatty acids (found mostly in margarine and processed baked foods). See tables below for foods that contribute most of these types of fat to the average American diet.

Table 1. Foods Responsible For Most Intake of Saturates

Food Types Percentage of Total Consumption of Saturated Fat in American Diet
Cheese 13.1 percent
Beef 11.7
Milk 7.8
Oils 4.9
Ice cream/frozen yogurt 4.7
Cakes/cookies/quick breads/donuts 4.7
Butter 4.6
Shortening and Animal Fats 4.4
Salad dressings/mayonnaise 3.7
Poultry 3.6
Margarine 3.2
Sausages 3.1
Potato chips/corn chips/popcorn 2.9
Eggs 2.3

Table 2. Foods Responsible For Most Trans Fatty Acids Intake

Foods Percentage of Total Consumption of Trans Fat in American Diet
Cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, bread 40 percent
Animal products 21
Margarine 17
Fries 8
Potato chips, corn chips, popcorn 5
Breakfast cereal, candy 5

Source: Dietary Guidelines For Americans (2005)

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