Fast facts about energy nutrients, part three (fat!)

Fast facts about energy nutrients, part three (fat!)




This is the third in a three-part series that will give you nutrient information on protein, carbohydrates and fat.


Calories: 9 calories per Gram

Major functions:

  • Transports fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Provides structure to cell membranes.
  • Cushions body organs.
  • Contributes to normal nerve and brain development in young children.
  • Is an essential part of hormones that regulate body functions.
  • Provides a concentrated energy source.
  • Provides stored energy for the body.

Types: Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) are found in olive oil, canola oil and most nuts. Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are found in vegetable oils. Saturated fats (SFAs) are found primarily in animal foods and tropical oils, such as palm oil. Trans fats are found primarily in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

 Did you know?

  1. Fat is made of fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are ones the body cannot make and must have in the diet. Fat is needed in small amounts for good health. Too much of any type of fat can contribute to weight gain. Monounsaturated fatty acids are associated with lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Food sources of these fats are recommended.
  2. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids are associated with increased risk for heart disease, but at high intake levels, they increase the risk of some types of cancers.  Moderate intake of these fats is recommended.
  3. Saturated fatty acids are associated with increased risk for heart disease. The dietary guidelines encourage lower intake of these types of fats.
  4. The dietary guidelines recommend limiting added fats, limiting solid fats, choosing lean, low-fat and fat-free foods and shifting sources of dietary fat to fish, nuts and olive or canola oils.

Food sources:

Liquid sources of fat: vegetable oils, fish, nuts and seeds. 

Solid sources of fat: margarine, butter, shortening, lard, meat, poultry and dairy products. Many grains and vegetables have fat added during preparation or processing.

Can the body store this nutrient?

The body stores excess calories from all sources – protein, carbohydrate and fat – as body fat.

Tamalynn Kirby is a nutritionist for School District 51.



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