The Hidden Fat Content in Your Diet

Do you nitpick over every last calorie and crumb, but let fat content go by the wayside? Fat grams are just as important to consider as calories, and you may be surprised at which foods have a shockingly high fat content.

It’s probably no surprise that greasy cheeseburgers, French fries, and pizza are loaded with fat. But did you know that even certain vegetables and healthy fish can have a high fat content? Keep in mind that fat is an important part of a healthy dietand while not all fat is bad, the fat content of a given meal should be evaluated just as closely as its calories.

Fat Content in Your Diet: How Much Fat Is Okay?

It’s important to pay attention to how many fat grams you eat each day to make sure you’re getting just the right amount of fat in your diet and no more.

The recommendation is that no more than 30 percent of your daily calories should come from fat, says Anne Wolf, RD, a researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Based on the average daily total intake of 2,000 calories, this means we should eat less than 65 grams of fat each day. “Typically we’re eating well over what we need,” notes Wolf.

There are two kinds of fats, commonly considered “good” and “bad” fats. Saturated and trans fats are bad, as they are linked to a number of health problems, like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unsaturated fats — the good ones — can actually protect your body from some of these conditions. Still, that doesn’t mean you can eat them without limit because too much of any fat, or of any food for that matter, can lead to weight gain.

When tracking the fat content of your meals, make sure that most of your fat intake is in the form of unsaturated fats, that less than 20 grams are coming from saturated fats, and that hardly any are from trans fat.

Fat Content in Your Diet: Fat in Everyday Foods

Think of the foods that frequently make up your daily meals. Have you ever considered their fat content? Here are some commonly eaten foods and where they weigh in on fat (typically the bad kinds):

  • Average fast-food hamburger: 36 grams
  • Average fast-food fish sandwich: 24 grams
  • 10 French fries: 8 grams
  • One ounce of potato chips: 10 grams
  • One slice of cheese pizza: 8 grams
  • Two ounces of bologna: 16 grams
  • One hot dog: 14 grams
  • Three slices of cooked bacon: 10 grams
  • One ounce cheddar cheese: 8 grams
  • One cup whole milk: 7 grams
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter: 14 grams
  • One teaspoon of butter or margarine: 4 grams
  • One serving of most breads, bagels, and cereals: about 1 gram

If some of those numbers don’t look that bad to you, pay attention to the amounts and serving sizes of each of them. When was the last time you ate only one ounce of potato chips, just 10 fries, or a single slice of pizza? So think about fat content before you indulge in a burger and fries for lunch followed by pizza for dinner.

Fat Content in Your Diet: Surprisingly High-Fat Foods

While the high fat content of certain foods is no surprise, you may not realize that many other foods are loaded with hidden fat:

  • Movie theater popcorn (because of the way it’s processed)
  • Packaged meals with added sauces, butter, or oil
  • Highly marbled red meats, including some cuts of beef and lamb — that white marbling is fat
  • Chicken and other poultry if the skin is eaten
  • Salad dressings

Perhaps the biggest hidden sources of fats to watch out for are prepackaged snack foods and meals. They often contain dangerous trans fats — frequently listed as partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening in the ingredients — because they give these foods a longer shelf life. Trans fats are particularly unhealthy for your heart and cholesterol levels and should be avoided as much as possible.

While you might know that olive and vegetable oils are high in fat, so are nuts, olives, avocados, and certain fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. These foods contain the good, unsaturated fats — just monitor how much you eat to control yourweight.

Given the high fat content of so many foods, if you’re not careful, you could exceed your entire daily fat allowance by lunchtime! Keep an eye on your fat intake, and opt for unsaturated fats in place of saturated and trans fats. Your health, yourheart, and your waistline will thank you.

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