How Much Saturated Fat Should You Have Per Day?

Closeup of Fish & Chips served in paper
Fast and fried foods are often a primary source of saturated fat in the diet. (Image: Jacek Nowak/iStock/Getty Images)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010" emphasizes three major goals for Americans, one of which is to decrease consumption of foods containing high amounts of saturated fat. To reach this goal, people should know how much saturated fat should be consumed in their daily diets.

Recommended Levels

The USDA's guidelines recommend that Americans consume less than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fats and replace the remaining fats with healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This means that if you consume a 2,000-calorie diet, no more than 200 calories should come from saturated fats. Furthermore, there are 9 calories in every gram of fat, meaning intake should be limited to 22 grams.

Dietary Saturated Fats

Your body uses small amounts of saturated fat for certain functions; however, it makes enough on its own. Therefore, there is little need for saturated fat in the diet. As a result, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends keeping saturated fat intake as low as possible.

Foods that Contain Saturated Fats

Saturated fats in the American diet are consumed most often in full-fat cheese; meats like sausage, franks, bacon and ribs; butter or margarine; chicken dishes; and grain- or dairy-based desserts. So instead of these foods, focus your diet toward heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as fatty fish, canola oil, olive oil, nuts and peanut butter.

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