You may be surprised to learn that some of the fats you eat are an important part of a healthful diet. When it comes to fats and good health, here’s what you need to know. First, it’s recommended that 20 to 35 percent of your calories come from fat. Second, there are many different types of fat and it’s the type that matters most. Last, while you need fats in your diet, it’s important to eat enough of the right types and to limit those that can cause health problems.

Most of the fats you eat should be of the unsaturated variety. Unsaturated fats come in two forms, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These fats can help reduce blood cholesterol when eaten in place of saturated and trans fats. Therefore, it’s important to reduce the saturated and trans fats in your diet, as eating too much of these fats may increase your risk for heart disease by raising “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Choose products low in saturated and trans fats while eating a nutritionally balanced diet.

Your pocket guide below contains tips to help you do just that.

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Your Pocket Guide to Dietary Fats

Unsaturated Fats

• Polyunsaturated fats are found in soybean, corn and some safflower and sunflower oils, walnuts, flaxseed and fish, such as salmon, trout and herring.
• Monounsaturated fats are found in canola, olive and some safflower and sunflower oils and in avocados, nuts and peanut butter.

Saturated Fats

• Saturated fats and cholesterol are found in foods from animals. Such foods include butter, lard, egg yolks, fatback, tallow, suet, chicken fat, beef fat, whole milk and cheese products. Saturated fats are also found in foods from plants such as vegetable shortening, coconut oil and palm oil.

• Trans fats are found in foods containing partially hydrogenated oils such as vegetable shortening, baked goods (examples: cakes, cookies, pies and crackers), snack foods, stick margarines and other foods. Trans fats also occur naturally in dairy and beef products.

Substituting for Saturated Fat

• If you are trying to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet, there are many simple substitutions that can help. When eating out, choose items described on the menu as steamed, broiled, baked, roasted or poached instead of fried, crispy, creamed or au gratin. At home, bake, broil, roast and grill your foods instead of frying. When shopping, choose lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry, fish, dry beans and low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt. (NAPSI)