Fat is a nutrient that is an important source of calories. One gram of fat supplies 9 calories - more than twice the amount we get from carbohydrates or protein. Fat also is needed to carry and store essential fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and D. There are two basic types of fat. They are grouped by their chemical structure. Each type of fat is used differently in our bodies and has a different effect on our health.

When we eat a lot of high fat foods, we get a lot of calories. With too many calories, we may gain weight. Eating too much fat may also increase the risk of getting diseases like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke. Health experts recommend that we should get no more than 30% of our calories from fat to reduce our risk of getting these diseases.

Fat is found in many foods. Some of the fat that we eat comes from the fat we add in cooking or spread on breads, vegetables or other foods. A lot of fat is hidden in foods that we eat as snacks, pastries or prepared meals.

We can reduce the amount of fat we eat by cutting down on the fat that we add in cooking or spread on foods. We can eat skim milk and low fat cheeses instead of whole milk and cheese. We can also use less fat, oil, butter, and margarine. Another way to cut down on fat is to drain and trim meats and take the skin off poultry. We can also read labels and compare the amount of fat in foods to make lower fat choices.

To find more about the different fats, read the files for Saturated fats and Unsaturated fats.

To find out how much fat you need, "Ask the Nutritionist".

To test what you know about fat, take the Quiz on Fat.

To find out how much fat you are eating, go to the file "How's Your Diet for Fat?"

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