There are many essential nutrients in a balanced diet. There are 3 major nutrients that most people calculate when trying to plan a healthy diet, carbohydrates, protein and fats. Today I am going to discuss fat and another major factor in the diet for those who choose to consume it, alcohol. These two substances contain the most calories found in the diet. Fat has 9 calories per gram and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.
Fat has an essential function in the diet, alcohol does not. Fats account for about 13 to 30 percent of a person's body weight. Fat is an essential part of all cells. Fat provides insulation, optimum body temperature in cold weather and cushions critical organs. Fat also transports the fat-soluble vitamins throughout the body. In foods, fats enhance taste, flavor, aroma, crispness and juiciness.
The following are dietary guidelines for the consumption of fat and alcohol:
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acid and less than 300mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
- Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.
- Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
- Those who chose to drink alcoholic beverages should do so sensibly and in moderation - defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. One drink is 12 ounces of bear, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of hard liquor such as 80 proof gin or whiskey.
- Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including those who cannot restrict their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children, and adolescents, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and those with specific medical conditions.
- Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.
It is also important to note before making any adjustments to your diet that if you have any existing health issues or a family history of a health problem you should always consult your physician.
Tomorrow I will discuss carbohydrates and protein.
Information adapted from Nutrition for Foodservice and Culinary Professionals, Seventh Addition, Karen Eich Drummond and Lisa M. Brefere, John Wiley and Sons, Publishers.