The Facts about Fat: Do the Math

By Martin Brown

CheeseyYou can’t believe it’s butter — so you ate the whole thing.

Mazola is corn oil…but is that a good thing?

And how much olive oil is too much olive oil?

All great questions.

Okay, here’s the rule of thumb: fat is different from cholesterol.

To make things even more complicated, there is good cholesterol, and bad cholesterol.

So how do you know when you’re taking in too much fat?

You do the math.

Health experts at the Institute of Medicine recommend that healthy adults get 20 to 35 percent of their total calories from fat.

And every  gram of fat has 9 calories. So, if you’re trying to eat, say, 1,800 calories a day, you should have no more than 70 grams of fat a day — which is 35 percent of 1,800 calories, or 630 calories,

those 630 calories divided by 9 (again,the calories per gram of fat) equals that limit of 70 grams.

We’re sure you’ve noticed that  food labels in the grocery stores list calories by themselves, as well as calories from fat per serving.

For example, if a food label says 250 calories and 110 fat calories, it means that almost half the food’s calories come from fat.

So stay away from that tantalizing tidbit? Not necessarily. Take this example: let’s say 55 percent of the calories in part-skim mozzarella cheese come from fat, but a 1-ounce serving (28.47 grams) has just 4 grams of fat and 72 total calories.

The percentages you see on food labels are designed to show how much of a specific nutrient a food contains compared with the Daily Value (DV). The DV is based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

So if the label lists 18 percent next to fat, it means that the food provides 18 percent of the suggested daily total for fat.

You may be eating more or less than 2,000 calories a day, but this percentage can still help you choose foods that are lower in fat.

And just as yummy, like fruits (usually no fat).

Say cheese!

* Mayo Clinic
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