The major food sources of fat in the Australian diet as determined by the CSIRO Division of Human Nutrition. The personal pattern of fat intake will need to be considered when advising individuals about eating for fat loss.

What is dietary fat? Dietary fats or triglycerides are made up of three fatty acids joined together by a glycerol molecule. Oils are fats in liquid form and these have the same energy value (i.e. 9kcal/g) as ‘hard’ fats. Hence all fats and oils have been generally thought to have the same effect on body fat storage, although there is now some controversy about this. In terms of other health issues such as blood cholesterol level, the type of fat is known to be more important. Fatty acids in foods can be divided into two major categories: saturated and unsaturated. Within the unsaturated category, there are also two major classes: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Fats in food contain a mixture of all types of fatty acids but in different proportions. For example, com oil contains around 14 per cent saturated, 32 per cent monounsaturated and 52 per cent polyunsatured oil and butter contains about 52 per cent saturated, 23 per cent monounsaturated and 1 per cent polyunsaturated fat. It’s a common misconception that only animal fats are saturated. Most plants and oils contain some saturated fat and in coconut and palm kernel oil, the saturated fats are the dominant ones (based on the fatty acid of greatest concentration).


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