Fats

Although some fats are worse than others for your health, fats are essential for the proper functioning of the body:

  • They enable the transport of several vitamins (A, D, E and K).
  • They promote the formation of cell membranes.
  • They provide a significant store of energy.

Fats and calories

Whether they are good (polyunsaturated, monounsaturated) or “bad” (saturated, trans) for heart health, fats provide the same quantity of energy: 9 calories per gram. Compared to proteins or carbohydrates (4 calories/g), fats provide double the calories. That is why it is important to eat them in moderation. 1 teaspoon of oil has twice the calories as the same amount of sugar.

Excessive fat intake, especially of saturated and trans fats, can be associated with high blood cholesterol levels, in addition to contributing to weight gain.

Fat and diabetes

Since diabetes is an important risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease, here are a few recommendations:

  • Limit your consumption of “bad” fats: saturated, trans fats and cholesterol, found primarily in animal-based foods, in commercially fried foods and in foods containing hydrogenated fats (e.g.: shortening).
  • Most of the time, choose monounsaturated fats (polyunsaturated are also recommended but in smaller amounts).
  • Increase your consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids by eating fatty fish (salmon, trout, sardines, etc.), canola oil, nut oil, walnuts and ground flax seeds.

Suggested portions

According to the Diabetes Québec Exchange System, one serving or an exchange of fats provides:

  • 0 g of carbohydrates
  • 0 g of protein
  • 5 g of fat
  • 45 calories

We suggest no more than 3 to 9 servings of added fats per day.

What is one fat exchange?

Good fats. Eat them most often.

Monounsaturated

Avocado 1/6
Canola, olive, hazelnut and peanut oil 5 ml
Soft, non-hydrogenated margarine 5 ml
Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.) 15 ml
Olives 5 medium or 10 small
Pesto 10 ml
Olive tapenade 15 ml
Light vinaigrette 30 ml
Regular vinaigrette 10 ml

Polyunsaturated

Pumpkin, sesame, hemp and sunflower seeds 15 ml
Ground flax seeds, chia seeds 30 ml
Safflower, flax, corn, nut, sesame, soy and sunflower oil 5 ml
Light mayonnaise 15 ml
Regular mayonnaise 5 ml
Walnuts, Brazil nuts 15 ml
Roasted soybeans 30 ml

Bad fats. Limit your intake.

  • Saturated
Bacon, well-done 2 small slices
Butter 5 ml
Cream, 10% M.F. 45 ml
Cream, 15% M.F. 30 ml
Cream, 35% M.F., liquid 15 ml
Cream, 35% M.F., whipped 30 ml
Sour cream, 14% M.F. 30 ml
Cream cheese 15 ml
Light cream cheese 30 ml
Unsweetened, dried coconut 15 ml
Liver pâté 15 ml
Lard 5 ml
  • Trans
Whipped dessert toppings (Cool WhipTM, NutriwhipTM) 60 ml
Hard or hydrogenated margarine 5 ml
Vegetable-oil shortening 5 ml

Watch out for hidden fat

Much of the fat we consume is hidden in the foods we eat: poultry skin, deli meats, chips, fried foods, dishes prepared en croûte (in a crust), cheeses, nuts and seeds, sauces, vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, pastries, chocolate, etc. 

To find out how much fat a food product contains, look for the word “Fat” in the Nutrition Facts table. It indicates the total fat content of a given serving of the product.

In general, consuming between 55 and 75 g per day of fat is sufficient to meet your needs.

 

Research and text: Diabetes Québec Dietitian Team

June 2014 (updated on July 2018)

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