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Dietary Fat

One of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide fat are butter, margarine, salad dressing, oil, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, and some dairy products.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

Fats

A major source of energy in the diet, fat helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Some kinds of fats, especially saturated fats and trans fatty acids, may raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease. Other fats, such as unsaturated fats, do not raise blood cholesterol.

Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Cutting down or changing the fat we eat may reduce our risk of heart disease

Modifying fat in our food (replacing some saturated (animal) fats with plant oils and unsaturated spreads) may reduce risk of heart and vascular disease, but it is not clear whether monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are more beneficial. There are no clear health benefits of replacing saturated fats with starchy foods (reducing the total amount of fat we eat). Heart and vascular disease includes heart attacks, angina, strokes, sudden cardiovascular death and the need for heart surgery. Modifying the fat we eat seems to protect us better if we adhere in doing so for at least two years. It is not clear whether people who are currently healthy benefit as much as those at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (people with hypertension, raised serum lipids or diabetes for example) and people who already have heart disease, but the suggestion is that they would all benefit to some extent.

Fat supplementation of human milk for promoting growth in preterm infants

enterocolitis).

Dietary advice for treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults

No high quality data on the efficacy of diet alone exists for treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This systematic review assesses the effects of studies that examined dietary advice with or without the addition of exercise or behavioural approaches. Eighteen studies were included. No data were found on micro‐ or macrovascular diabetic complications, mortality or quality of life. It is difficult to draw reliable conclusions from the limited data that are presented in this review, however, the addition of exercise to dietary advice showed improvement of metabolic control after six‐ and twelve‐month follow‐up.

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Summaries for consumers

High cholesterol: Does reducing the amount of fat in your diet help?

Reducing the amount of saturated fats in your diet seems to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats are mainly found in animal food products.

Cutting down or changing the fat we eat may reduce our risk of heart disease

Modifying fat in our food (replacing some saturated (animal) fats with plant oils and unsaturated spreads) may reduce risk of heart and vascular disease, but it is not clear whether monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are more beneficial. There are no clear health benefits of replacing saturated fats with starchy foods (reducing the total amount of fat we eat). Heart and vascular disease includes heart attacks, angina, strokes, sudden cardiovascular death and the need for heart surgery. Modifying the fat we eat seems to protect us better if we adhere in doing so for at least two years. It is not clear whether people who are currently healthy benefit as much as those at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (people with hypertension, raised serum lipids or diabetes for example) and people who already have heart disease, but the suggestion is that they would all benefit to some extent.

Fat supplementation of human milk for promoting growth in preterm infants

enterocolitis).

See all (64)

Terms to know

Monounsaturated Fat
This type of fat is found in avocados, canola oil, nuts, olives and olive oil, and seeds. Eating food that has more monounsaturated fat (or "healthy fat") instead of saturated fat (like butter) may help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. However, monounsaturated fat has the same number of calories as other types of fat and may contribute to weight gain if you eat too much of it.
Polyunsaturated Fat
This type of fat is liquid at room temperature. There are two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs): omega-6 and omega-3. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in liquid vegetable oils, such as corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil. Omega-3 fatty acids come from plant sources-including canola oil, flaxseed, soybean oil, and walnuts-and from fish and shellfish.
Saturated Fat
A type of dietary fat that can increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is found in meat, poultry skin, butter, lard, shortening, and all milk and dairy products except fat-free versions.
Trans Fat
A type of fat that has certain chemical properties and is usually found in processed foods such as baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, shortening, margarine, and certain vegetable oils. Eating trans fat increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

More about Dietary Fat

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Also called: Dietary fats, Fats, Fatty acids

Other terms to know: See all 4
Monounsaturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat, Saturated Fat

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