Recommended Fat Intake

Health experts recommend consuming no more than 30percent of our calories from fat—with no more than 10percent from saturated fat. Here is a chart to help you determine how much fat you should eat.


Total Fat (grams)

Saturated Fat (grams)

Most women & older adults

About 1,600


Less than 17

Most men, active women, teen girls & children

About 2,200


Less than 24

Active men & teen boys

About 2,800


Less than 31

Note: These are guidelines for healthy individuals. If you have heart disease or high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels, or if you are overweight, ask your health care professional to recommend the types of fat and amounts most appropriate for you.

of meat. Shellfish have acquired an undeserved reputation for being high in cholesterol. Their cholesterol and total fat contents are actually comparatively low (see sidebar: Cholesterol Content of Foods, page 29).

Fat Substitutes

To appeal to our desire for lower-fat substitutes for our favorite high-fat foods, the commercial food industry has developed low- or lower-fat versions of many foods using various fat replacers. Until recently, fat replacers always consisted of proteins or carbohydrates, such as starches or gels, but the kinds of foods that could be prepared with these fat replacers were limited by their inability to withstand the high temperatures of frying. In 1996, after a long period of development, safety testing, and governmental review, the first non-caloric fat, olestra, was approved by the FDA for use in the manufacture of savory (non-sweet) snacks (such as crackers and chips). Because olestra is a modified fat, it is the first heat-resistant fat substitute, which allows it to be used to make fried foods. In addition, olestra gives foods the flavor and creamy "mouth feel" of high-fat foods.

FDA approval of olestra was controversial for two reasons. First, this artificial ingredient, if approved and accepted, would be the first in history to be consumed in quantities comparable to the quantities of fat, carbohydrates, and proteins we currently consume from food sources. In other words, these novel, previously unknown substances could become major parts of the diets of some people, and there

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