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.
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.
|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|
|Olive tapenade||15 ml|
|Light vinaigrette||30 ml|
|Regular vinaigrette||10 ml|
|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.
|Bacon, well-done||2 small slices|
|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|
|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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