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Good Fat, Bad Fat, Red Fat, Blue Fat

The new Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report supports getting rid of the total daily fat limit, but notes that individuals should focus on consuming more unsaturated fats….

Periodically, the dietary guidelines are reevaluated and recommendations are made that have a real impact on how the products that we buy are labeled and the foods that we eat are grown and/or prepared. Recently, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released a report that does not restrict the amount of total fat that an individual should consume on a daily basis. The committee emphasized that there is not a correlation between the amount of total of fat consumed by an individual and their risk for cardiovascular disease. Individuals should aim to consume more unsaturated fats as a part of their diet but not necessarily limit their fat intake. Unsaturated fats include fats that come from sources such as nuts, fish, and vegetable oils.

Research has shown that diets that consist of more unsaturated fats (surpassing the 35% limit) and less proteins and carbohydrates are more beneficial than diets that consist of more carbohydrates and a minimal amount of fats. However, Americans continue to consume large amounts of carbohydrates as a huge part of their daily diet, which contributes to their increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and obesity.

Low-fat and non-fat foods have been deemed healthy alternatives to fat-laden foods for so long that we have forgotten to check for the added sugar or carbohydrates that have replaced the missing fats. The trend seems to be, the lower the amount of fat the higher the amount of sugar. Now that the recommendation for daily fat consumption is likely to change, the trend may also change. We can anticipate that the amount of unsaturated or good fats in foods will increase, allowing a reduction in the amount of added sugar and refined grains.

Getting rid of the limitation placed on daily total fat consumption helps to reverse the idea that all fats are unhealthy. This recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee promotes the healthy exchange of non-fat or low-fat, sugary items for items with less sugar and more beneficial fats. Current research supports their recommendation, providing evidence that unsaturated fat consumption can be more than a good thing; it can be a very healthful thing.

Practice Pearls:

  • The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report supports getting rid of the total daily fat limit, which has been 20-35% of daily caloric intake.
  • Not all fats are unhealthy; individuals should focus on consuming more unsaturated fats.
  • Pay attention to the nutrition label, especially when it comes to fat free or low-fat foods because they tend to have more added sugar.

Mozaffarian D, Ludwig D S. “The 2015 U. S. Dietary Guidelines: Lifting the Ban on Total Dietary Fat.” JAMA 313.24 (2015): 2421-2422. Web. 25 Jun 2015.