USDA Recommendations for Fats, Oils, and Sweets in Your Diet - dummies

USDA Recommendations for Fats, Oils, and Sweets in Your Diet

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

The USDA recommends that you use fat and sugars sparingly in your diet. Most foods high in sugar and fat contribute many calories but few, if any, nutrients. However the USDA’s grouping of all fats with sugars riles some health groups.

There’s not much evidence to justify eating more sugar. However, critics say locking all fats and oils in the attic with sugar and sweets simply isn’t fair. All fats have the same number of calories but consider the bigger picture: Trans fats, found in foods made with partially hydrogenated fat, such as some stick margarines and solid vegetable shortening, are as unhealthy as saturated fat — animal fat that’s solid at room temperature.

Both trans fats and saturated fat raise unhealthy LDL cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, improve cholesterol levels and thus lower heart disease risk. The oils of nuts, seeds, and olives are unsaturated. The bottom line, use any fat sparingly; they’re caloric. And when you do, make them unsaturated.

Fats include:

  • Bacon and salt pork

  • Butter

  • Cream (dairy or nondairy)

  • Cream cheese

  • Lard

  • Margarine

  • Mayonnaise

  • Salad dressing

  • Shortening

  • Sour cream

  • Vegetable oil

Sugars include:

  • Candy

  • Corn syrup

  • Frosting (icing)

  • Fruit drinks (unfortified)

  • Gelatin desserts

  • Honey

  • Jam or jelly

  • Maple syrup

  • Marmalade

  • Molasses

  • Popsicles and ices

  • Sherbet

  • Soft drinks

  • Sugar (white and brown)