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Everyone needs some fat in their diet. Fat adds taste and texture to food and makes you feel full longer. It also helps you absorb certain vitamins. But eating too much fat can lead to weight gain.

  • Fat and cancer

    So far, research hasn’t given a clear answer to whether specific types of fat increase cancer risk. But eating lots of foods that are high in fat means you are more likely to put on weight. Research shows that being overweight increases your risk of cancer, so try to eat these foods less often.

  • How much fat is healthy?

    Health Canada recommends that adult Canadians get 20% to 35% of their total calories from fat each day. The number of calories you should take in depends on your age, activity level and other factors.

    For women
    • about 45 to 75 grams of fat a day (using an average of 2000 Calories/day)
    For men
    • about 60 to 105 grams of fat a day (using an average of 2500 Calories/day)

    The total amount of fat you eat comes from fat that occurs naturally in foods (such as meat and milk) as well as added fat (such as oil or margarine).

  • The kind of fat you choose is important

    Some fats are healthier than others.

    Healthy fats – unsaturated fat

    Unsaturated fats are found in avocados, nuts, seeds, non-hydrogenated soft margarines, oils like olive oil, corn oil, canola oil and sunflower oil, and salad dressings that contain these oils. A healthy diet includes only a small amount – 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) – of unsaturated oil and fat each day.

    Omega-3 fat is a type of unsaturated fat found in oily fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel.

    Less healthy fats – saturated and trans fats

    Saturated fats are found in animal sources of food such as meat, poultry, butter and cheese. They are also found in tropical oils like coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.

    Trans fats are found in foods that are made with or cooked in partially hydrogenated fat. Some crackers, potato chips, baked goods, deep-fried fast foods and margarines contain trans fats.

  • Tips to cut down on unhealthy fats
    • Choose lean cuts of meat and trim off visible fat. Remove skin from poultry. Keep meat portions to about the size of a deck of cards.
    • Grill, bake, poach or steam food rather than fry it, which requires adding extra fat for cooking.
    • If you choose something high in fat, pick something low in fat to go with it to make the overall meal lower in fat – for example, a baked potato instead of fries. Remember, if you add butter or margarine to your baked potato, you’re adding extra fat.
    • Try cutting the meat quantity in half and double the vegetable, bean or lentil quantity when cooking casseroles and stews.
    • Measure oil for cooking with tablespoons rather than pouring it straight from the bottle.
    • Use less dressing or a lower-fat dressing on salads. 
    • Choose lower-fat dairy products, such as skim or 1% milk, low-fat yogurt and lower-fat cheeses.
    • Replace cream and sour cream with yogurt or cottage cheese.
    • Limit how often you eat processed foods.
  • Tips to replace less healthy (saturated and trans) fat with healthy (unsaturated) fat
    • Choose salmon or other oily fish (such as herring, trout and sardines) more often than meat.
    • Cook with unsaturated oils such as olive, sunflower or canola oils instead of butter, lard or ghee.
    • Mash potatoes with olive oil and garlic instead of butter and milk. Or, mash with non-hydrogenated margarine and skim milk.
    • Serve bread with olive oil for dipping instead of butter. 
    • Use a sandwich spread made with unsaturated oil instead of butter.
    • Make your own salad dressing with canola or olive oil. Add balsamic, rice wine or other vinegars.


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