|Fat, unsaturated fat: How much is needed
by Janet Carter
Contrary to popular belief, fat isn’t all bad. It is important to
consume some fat, but of course, not too much. Also, there are some
fats that are better than others.
Why is fat needed in the diet?
- For the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Vitamins A, E, D, and K can only be absorbed in the presence of fat.
Just like other vitamins and minerals, these perform important
functions in our bodies.
- Insulation and protection. Our organs are
surrounded in a layer of fat to protect them and keep them insulated.
- Hair and skin. Fat is a major component of our
cells, so having enough helps keep our internal and external cells
What can happen when too much fat is consumed?
- Hormones, etc. Fat is a component of many
important things in our bodies like hormones, bile, and lipoproteins,
just to name a few.
There are two major types of cholesterol in our blood stream:
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol, that keeps arteries clean of
buildup. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol, with high levels
causing buildup of plaque on artery walls.
- Increased heart disease risk.
Too much fat, especially saturated and transfat, can cause plaque in
arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Because of the high level of calories in fat, it’s easy to gain weight
from consuming too much. This isn’t specific to fat, however,
since weight gain can come from too much of any type of food, including
carbohydrate and protein.
In summary, it is important to consume fat, but be careful about
portions and the types of fat.
How much fat is needed?
It’s not hard to get enough, since fat has more than double the
calories of carbohydrates and protein:
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
Reading nutrition labels
- Take the calories from fat
- Compare to total calories—if more, the product
is too high in fat (this trick is based on the 30 percent fat
- This will not work for items that are fats,
such as oils and mayonnaise.
To learn more about your fats and your diet or to receive a free
nutrition consultation, stop by Wellness Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1
p.m. Aug. 11 in the lobby of Ashley River Tower.
- If you want to know how much unsaturated fat is
in a product and it’s not listed, you can subtract the saturated and
transfats from the total, and the remainder is unsaturated.
This month’s Worksite Screening will be held on Aug. 26 in the
To register, go to http://www.musc.edu/medcenter/health1st.
The cost is $15 with state
health insurance coverage, and $42 for all others.
To see a sample report of what the screening covers, visit
Friday, Aug. 6,