Most dietitians advocate a low fat diet. This has often been misinterpreted as meaning very little fat of any kind. However, a very low fat diet (one which contributes less than 7–10 per cent of food energy) may not provide sufficient essential fatty acids or provide the amount of fat required to absorb enough fat-soluble vitamins. Such a diet may also make it difficult to meet energy requirements. So, fats should not be avoided, but they should be restricted so that they contribute no less than 10 per cent of food energy. The average contribution of fats in western diets is 40–45 per cent, and health guidelines generally recommend that this should be reduced to less than 35 per cent. It is also recommended that saturated fats and trans fatty acids should contribute no more than 10 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. Trans fatty acids occur in margarines that have been hydrogenated to improve their spreading quality. Some polyunsaturated fats and monunsaturated fats are essential to health, but only in moderate amounts.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.