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Amount and Types of Fat We Eat Affect Health and Risk of Disease: Updated Position of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

2014-01-08

Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802 media@eatright.org

CHICAGO – Healthy adults should consume between 20 percent and 35 percent of their calories from dietary fat, increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, and limit their intake of saturated and trans fats, according to an updated position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The position paper "Dietary Fatty Acids for Healthy Adults" has been published in the January issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The position paper provides guidance for registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, registered to translate research on fat and fatty acids into practical dietary recommendations for consumers.

The Academy's updated position is:

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that dietary fat for the healthy adult population should provide 20 percent to 35 percent of energy, with an increased consumption of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and limited intake of saturated and trans fats. The Academy recommends a food-based approach through a diet that includes regular consumption of fatty fish, nuts and seeds, lean meats and poultry, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.

Registered dietitian nutritionists can help consumers understand that a total diet approach is more beneficial than simply reducing dietary fat and replacing it with carbohydrates, as a high intake of refined carbohydrate can also negatively affect health.

The Academy's position paper can be translated into healthful eating messages for the public:

  • A simple and effective way to improve health is to eat more fish, nuts and seeds and to consume fewer desserts and convenience foods.
  • Fat is a critical nutrient, and certain types of fat, such as omega-3s and omega-6s, are needed for good health. For this and other health reasons, a fat-free diet is not recommended.
  • Fish is an excellent source of the omega-3s EPA and DHA; flax, walnuts and canola oil are good sources of ALA omega-3.
  • Both the amount of fat (how much) and the type of fat (what foods) in the diet can affect health and risk of disease.
  • Different foods provide different types of fat. Some fats improve your health (omega-3s help your heart and brain) while some are detrimental to your health (trans fat increases heart disease risk factors).

The Academy's position paper was written by registered dietitian nutritionists Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN, nutrition consultant, Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Heather Rasmussen, PhD, RD, assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center. Press copies of the position paper are available by contacting the Academy's media relations team by calling (312) 899-4769 or via email at media@eatright.org.

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All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy’s Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.