Fats are important components of a healthy diet. They provide our body energy. It is estimated that about 33-35% of our daily calories intake is in the form of fats (Fats provide more than twice as much energy as either carbohydrate or protein). Besides, fats also help to transport fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E, produce hormones and form part of the structure of cell membranes.

Fats are made up of mainly fatty acids and these fatty acids can be divided into three main categories:

  • Saturated fatty acids
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (for example: omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids)
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids

All three types of fatty acids exist in fat-containing food. However, the proportion of each fatty acids can be different.

Ideal Amounts of Different Fats in the Diet

Nutrients Children, 1-3 year old Children, 4-18 year old Adults
Fat 30-40% of the total energy intake 25-35% of the total energy intake 25-35% of the total energy intake
Carbohydrates 45-65% 45-65% 45-65%
Protein 5-20% 10-30% 10-35%

Saturated Fats

Foods that are high in saturated fatty acid:

Food / 100g Saturated Fatty Acid (g) Total Fat (g)
Creamed coconut block 58.5 68
Suet, animal 56 100
Butter 53.5 80
Suet, vegetable 45 88
Lard 41 100
Hard margarine 35 80
Cream cheese 30 48
Double cream 30 48
Cheddar cheese, full-fat 21.5 34
Chocolate 18.5 31
Fried bacon, lean and fat 16 41
Shortcrust pastry 10 28
Pork pie 10 27
Potato crisps 9 37
Minced beef 7 16

How Much Fat Should You Eat?

Decrease your intake of saturated and trans fats is good for your health. You can eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based and commercial product foods. Polyunsaturated fats such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential to our health because our body cannot make them on its own. Breast milk contains DHA naturally, an omega 3 fatty acid which helps the brain development.

Dietary reference intake (DRIs): recommended intakes for infants, children, pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.

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