Fat is one of the three main macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and protein. 

From the dietary perspective, there are four types of fats. These are saturated fats, transfats, mono and poly unsaturated fats. Each one of these fats has different chemical structures and physical properties.

The importance of Fat for the body?

Fat is a fundamental part of cell membranes and is necessary for proper growth and development.

They are essential to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Also, they support vital body processes, such as blood clotting, nervous system function, reproduction, and immune response, and play a role in maintaining healthy skin and hair.

Fat provides calories for the body. Each gram of fat provides nine calories. They also stores excess energy that the body needs immediately and serves as a secondary energy source once calories from carbohydrates are used.

The body uses fat as a fuel source through a process called gluconeogenesis. This process may occur when carbohydrate sources are not enough, in starvation or intense exercise.

Dietary Fats and Health

Fats are grouped as saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are found in foods as a mixture. Since the body can synthesize saturated fat by itself, and there is no need for saturated fat from dietary sources.

With a few exceptions, saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and the recommendation is to consume them as low as possible. When consumed, saturated fat, like all fats, provides energy for the body, helps the body absorb specific vitamins, and supports many body processes.

Unsaturated fats are group into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (PUFA and MUFA). Monounsaturated fatty acids are Omega 7 and Omega 9, and polyunsaturated fatty acids are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Within calorie limits consuming unsaturated fats  is considered healthy.

Daily requirements for Dietary Fats

There are no fat intake levels defined to determine deficiency increased risk for chronic diseases or levels, causing adverse effects. Because of that, there are no daily values or upper intake levels defined for fats. An Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) is estimated as 20 to 35 percent of total energy. (FNB, 2005)

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fat. Besides, the suggestion is to replace saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats when possible. (FDA, 2021)

* U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA), 2021, Total Fat , Accessed at: 06.01.21, Accessed from: https: //www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/assets/InteractiveNFL_TotalFat_March2020.pdf
* Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), 2005, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate,Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids