ARTICLES & GUIDES

TOTAL FAT

What It Is?

Fat is found in foods from both plants and animals. There are two types of fat:

  • Saturated fat is found in higher proportions in animal products and is usually solid at room temperature.
  • Unsaturated fat
    • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in higher proportions in plants and are usually liquid at room temperature.
    • Trans fat is an unsaturated fat found primarily in partially hydrogenated oils (and foods containing these oils) and in small amounts in some animal products. Trans fat is structurally different from unsaturated fat that occurs naturally in plant foods and has detrimental health effects. 

Where Is It Found?

Saturated and trans fats are found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Chicken fat
  • Coffee creamer, cream, and milk (whole and 2% milk)
  • Dairy products (such butter and regular/full-fat cheese, cream cheese, and ice cream)
  • Desserts and sweets (such as cakes, chocolate candies, cookies, and ice cream)
  • Fast food
  • Frozen pizza
  • Meats and poultry
  • Nuts
  • Processed meats and poultry products (such as bacon, hot dogs, jerky, luncheon meats, and sausages)
  • Ready-to-use frostings
  • Refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls)
  • Savory snacks (such as chips, crackers, and microwave popcorn)
  • Tropical plant oils (such as coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils)
  • Vegetable shortening and stick margarine

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Avocados
  • Fish (such as such as herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna)
  • Mayonnaise and oil-based salad dressings
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives
  • Soft margarines (liquid, tub, and spray)
  • Vegetable oils (such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, and soybean oils)

What It Does?

Fat provides calories, or “energy,” for the body. Fat also stores energy in excess of what the body needs immediately, and serves as a secondary energy source once calories from carbohydrates are used up. Each gram of fat provides 9 calories.

  • Fat is a basic part of cell membranes and is necessary for proper growth and development.
  • Fat helps the body absorb important fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K).
  • Fat supports key body processes, such as blood clotting, nervous system function, reproduction, and immune response.
  • Fat “cushions” internal organs and protects them from being damaged. The fat layer below the skin also insulates the body from heat loss.
  • Fat plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair.
  • Fat in food provides taste and consistency and helps you feel full. 

“Factsheets Total Fat.” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/factsheets/Total_Fat.pdf

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