2.37 Recommendations for Fat Intake
The guidelines for how much fat you should eat in your diet from the ACC/AHA and from the USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines say the following:
- No more than 10% of total daily calories from saturated fat
- To lower cholesterol, cut saturated fats to 5-6% of total daily calories
- Sources of saturated fat should be replaced with unsaturated fat
- Trans fat should be avoided
- 8-10% calories from polyunsaturated
While these are the standard recommendations, they are far from ideal. On a whole foods plant based diet without added oil, saturated fats are almost completely eliminated as very little occurs in completely natural food products like fruits, vegetables, beans grains and nuts/seeds. Just like with cholesterol, if we know that saturated fats and trans fats are harmful and we don’t need to eat them to live, then why consume any at all if we can avoid it?
The lower the percentage of overall calories from fat the better. Diets to reverse heart disease require 10% of all daily calories from any type of fat or less! Compare this to the USDA guidelines that say saturated fat alone can be up to 10% of your daily calories!
A whole foods plant based diet without oil will be low in fat as long as nuts/seeds/avocado/coconut are limited, usually around 15% of overall calories from fat. To hit that 10% mark, avoid the higher fat plant foods more aggressively and increase vegetable intake.
Fat is not all bad. We do need to eat some fat to live, but excessive fat can indeed cause harm and more specifically, can lead to heart disease. Including some source of omega-3 fatty acids is important to keep the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio healthy.
Here is a summary of fat intake on a whole food plant based diet for heart health:
- Aim for as little fat as possible in your diet, at least under 20% of total calories, preferably less
- Avoid any type of oil at all costs if possible
- Heart disease reversal requires 10% of calories or less from fat
- Reduce fat on a whole food plant based diet by completely avoiding oil and reducing or avoiding nuts/seeds/avocado/coconut
- Include a small amount of omega-3 rich foods (i.e. ground flax, chia seeds, hemp seeds) or consider an algae derived omega-3 supplement