What Are Fats?

A small amount of fat intake is necessary for good health. However, too much fat increases the risk of heart disease and can lead to weight gain and obesity. Recommended total daily fat intake is 25-35% of total calories.

There are different types of fat. Some types of fat are healthier than others.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat is one of the unhealthy fats, because it raises the risk of heart disease and increases cholesterol levels. Saturated fat intake should not exceed 10% of daily calories; however, the recommendation is to aim for less than 7% of daily calories.

Saturated fat is solid room temperature and is mostly found in animal products. Foods high in saturated fat include: high-fat red meats, bacon, sausage, butter, whole milk, cheese, and coconut and palm oil.


Unsaturated Fat

Unsaturated fat is a healthier fat and may help lower cholesterol levels. Found in plant products, unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature. Most of daily fat calories should come from the two types of unsaturated fats: polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat.

Polyunsaturated Fat

Polyunsaturated Fat is a good fat commonly consumed through corn, safflower, soybean and sesame oils. Omega-3 fatty acid is a polyunsaturated fat found in soybean and canola oils, high-fat fish, flaxseed and walnuts.


Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fat is the healthiest fat to eat, because it may help increase "good" cholesterol levels. This type of fat is commonly consumed through canola, olive and peanut oils, avocados, nuts and fish.


Trans Fat (Hydrogenated Fat)

Trans fat is an unhealthy type of fat because it raises cholesterol levels (even more than saturated fat). Therefore, trans fat should be avoided as much as possible. Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. It is commonly found in commercially baked goods, stick margarines, and fried or processed food.

Example of Daily Fat Grams

Based on daily calorie count, you can figure out how many total grams of saturated and unsaturated fat you should consume.


Fats: 1 choice = 0 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat and 45 calories

Reference updated 06/29/19