Too much dietary fat causes many health problems. However, it is important to have some fat in your diet; about 20 to 35 percent of your calories should come from a variety and balance of healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats).
Healthy fats are used by your body in several ways:
- Fat provides a highly-concentrated form of energy. One gram of fat gives you nine calories of energy, which is over twice that provided by carbohydrates or protein.
- Fat enables your body to transport, store and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. An absence of fat may mean a deficiency in these vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins help to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting, and the nervous system.
- Fat provides insulation and a protective cover for vital organs. In an average adult, as much as 9 lbs of fat is found around the liver, heart, kidneys and other organs.
- Essential fatty acids from omega-3 and omega-6 fats cannot be made by your body, and therefore they must be supplied through your diet. Dull, lifeless hair and dry skin can be a sign that you may not be getting enough of these fats.
And of course, fat adds extra flavor, aroma, and texture to food, which is perhaps why we so often and too easily eat too much of it. Remember to limit your fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of your calories and to choose "good" fats whenever possible.