Although there is often a lot of hype around low fat diets, cutting fat completely out of your diet is not healthy. Fat is an important source of energy. Though high in calories, the key to fat intake is moderation. Teens especially need fat in their diet to help developing body functions and maintain energy levels. Fats for teens should come from healthy sources.
How Much Fat Per Day
For both teenage boys and girls, 5 to 6 teaspoons of fat are recommended daily. Fat can’t always be measured by the teaspoon, however, so it is easier to think of fat in actual percentages. Teens should aim to consume about 25 percent of their calories from fat sources. An actual gram count will vary depending on how many calories you are consuming each day. For example, a healthy teenage girl should eat roughly 1,800 calories per day. Based on this calorie count, between 50 and 70 grams of fat should be consumed. A healthy teenage boy may have a higher calorie intake of about 2,200 calories per day; about 61 to 86 grams of fat should be consumed.
Fats to Avoid
Teens should avoid unhealthy fats as they can lead to immediate and long-term health problems. Heart complications are common in those who consume too many unhealthy saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are most often found in animal products. To avoid this fat, limit how much red meat and full-fat dairy you consume each day. Trans fats are most often found in baked goods. To eliminate trans fats, cut back on the amount of butter, margarine and shortening that is used in these products.
Fats to Eat
Good fats should come from the unsaturated fat group. These fats can be divided into polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. Olive oil, canola oil, avocado and a variety of nuts and seeds are foods you can consume to get more healthy unsaturated fat in your diet.
Healthy Fat Food Options
Now that you know what fats to eat, it’s time to incorporate them into your diet. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, macadamia, and peanuts are all rich in monounsaturated fats. Try packing one of your favorites as a snack for the day. A serving size for each of these is about 1 ounce. Look for the varieties that contain low or no sodium so you aren’t elevating your salt intake. You can also season with other spices for a new flavor. Top yogurt or salads with nuts to get a little extra healthy fat with your meal. When cooking or baking, limit your use of butter or margarine and substitute with canola or olive oil. Olive oil can also be used as a salad dressing. When making a sandwich, skip the mayo and try topping with avocado instead.