The Fats and Oils Group
Foods in this group include butter, margarine, salad dressing, mayonnaise, sour cream, oils, lard, and nuts. The foods in this group are grouped together because they contain similar amounts of calories and fat per serving and, with the exception of nuts, contain little protein or carbohydrates. Although fat is often thought of as being unhealthy for you, fat is essential for life. We need a certain amount of fat each day. The hard part is deciding what types and how much fat to eat.
There are four main types of fat, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, trans, and saturated fats. All of these names describe the chemical structure of the different fats. Most foods contain a mixture of these four types of fats, but they are grouped by the type of fat that is present in the largest amount. While it is true that all fat is high in calories and that too much of any type of fat may be unhealthy, some types of fat are better for you than others. Saturated and trans fats have been shown to increase the risk for heart disease, but polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have been shown to have no effect on or decrease the risk for heart disease. See the section titled Eating for Cardiovascular Health.
One Serving from the Oils and Fats Group
One serving from the Oils and Fats Group contains about 45 calories and 5 grams of fat. Examples of one serving of monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats include:
- 1 teaspoon margarine
- 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon oil (corn, canola, vegetable)
- 1 tablespoon salad dressing
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat salad dressing
- 6 almonds
- 10 peanuts
Examples of one serving of saturated fats include:
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 teaspoon shortening or lard
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
Tips for Choosing Foods from the Fats and Oils Group
- Choose foods that contain more polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats rather than foods that contain saturated or trans fats.
- Choose low-fat or reduced-fat options when calories are similar to or less than the full fat product. Sometimes the fat in low-fat products is replaced with carbohydrate, making a low-fat product that is still high in calories. For this reason, it is always important to check the calorie and macronutrient content of low-fat foods.
- Read the Nutrition Facts labels of foods to see how many grams of fat the products you consume contain.
Read the Nutrition Facts label if you are unsure of how many fat or oil servings a certain amount of food contains.
This site was last updated June, 2014.
This is a source of information only, and is not medical advice.