Older Adults Nutrition – Fat Facts

Many people think fat is bad for health. Contrary to this belief, fats and oils (called lipids in food) are an essential part of a healthy diet. They play many important roles in your body. Fat is necessary to absorb essential nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids. Fat not only provides energy, but also offers necessary fatty acids that help maintain your immune system, give you strong nails, shiny hair and healthy skin. Moreover it also produces hormones that affect everything from hunger and sex drive to your moods.

Many of us, especially if we are older, have been told to eat less fat. And you are in a dilemma what to do? Fat can affect health of your heart and arteries in a positive or negative way, depending on how much you eat and the types of fat you eat. In this article you will find all facts about fat for seniors – how much and what kind of fats an older adult should eat to remain fit and healthy.

Fat Facts The Seniors Need To Know

Good fats help protect you from many diseases. Good fats are the mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated kinds. Consuming more of the mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated types can on one hand help lower total blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and on the other hand raise good High Density Lipids (HDL). In addition, they may also help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure.

And when we look at bad fats, namely, saturated and trans-fats, they tend to elevate bad Low Density Lipids (LDL), raise triglycerides, and promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

So, the key here is making sure you focus on the right kinds of fat. That is stay away from saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.

Eating too much saturated and trans fats, the type of fats that are solid at room temperature, may increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats can be found in animal-based products such as milk and milk products, butter, meat, and poultry. And also eating too much cholesterol, a fatty substance found only in animal-based products, may clog arteries and so can increase the risk of heart disease.

In other words, the older adults should aim for minimizing saturated lipids and eliminating trans-fats.

Note: It’s important to eat less than 10 percent of your calories from saturated fats. (Dietary Guidelines)

How Much Saturated Fat Is Recommended For Seniors?

After age 50 women should be consuming 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day, depending on their physical activity level. Men should eat 2,000 to 2,800 calories each day after age 50, again depending on how active they are. (Older Adults, Nutrition And Calories)

Daily Value (% DV) For Saturated Fat

The table below shows the saturated fat limits for people with various calorie needs.

Total Calorie Intake Limit on Saturated Fat Intake
1,600 18 grams or less
2,000 20 grams or less
2,200 24 grams or less
2,500 25 grams or less

 

Make sure that you eat less than 10% of your calories from saturated fat. Further, your trans fats intake should be as low as possible and eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day.

Useful Related Post: Low Saturated Fat Diet

Fat is calorie dense, at 9 calories per gram. For example, if you plan to eat 2,000 calories a day, your daily allowance of saturated fat would be less than 200 calories or 20 grams (considering 9 calories per gram of fat). And 20 gram equals 100% Daily Value (DV) for saturated fat. Keep in mind; this is a limit, not a goal, meaning you do not have to attain your DV for saturated fat! Furthermore, you should aim to minimize trans fats intake (usually found in cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, and breads), and eat less than 300 milligrams of trans fats a day (mg/day) of cholesterol.

Note: Fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient, 9 calories per gram. As compared to this protein and carbohydrates each have 4 per gram.

If you are someone who has an elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol level then you should follow your doctor’s advice. The individuals who are suffering from elevated cholesterol may be advised to reduce their calories from saturated fat to less than 7 percent of total calories. This would mean about 16 grams or about 80% DV allowance and less than 200 mg/day of cholesterol.

Useful Related Post: Foods That Lower Cholesterol

What Foods Have Healthy Fat?

The table below lists common food sources of healthy fat.

Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Omega-3
Nuts
Vegetable oils:
Canola
Olive
High oleic safflower
Sunflower
Vegetable oils:
Soybean
Corn
Safflower
Certain fish:
Salmon
Trout
Herring
Vegetable oils:
Soybean
Canola
Walnuts
Flaxseed

 

What Kinds Of Fat Should You Eat?

Read here for some useful tips about making wise fat choices:

(i) An immediate change you can make is to eat monounsaturated (they are found predominantly in plants and polyunsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils to reduce saturated fat calories in your diet. Almonds, avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, flax seed, and walnuts are other foods that deliver healthy fats.

(ii) Experts recommend getting about 20% to 35% of calories from total fat, with maximum fats coming from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. These foods contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Such foods should be consumed rather than the saturated and trans fat sources foods. In fact, to help cut down the risk of heart disease, some evidence suggests eating approximately 2 servings of fish in a week (a total of about 8 ounces). It may reduce their risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

(iii) Unhealthy fats like saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol are found in many foods. So, opt for those that are lean, fat-free, or low-fat when choosing and cooking meat, poultry, and milk products. Shave off excess fat from meat and take out the skin from poultry to lessen saturated fat. Avoid foods that are processed or made with tropical oils (e.g., palm oil, palm fruit oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, etc.). Also keep away from foods that have higher amount of saturated fat (e.g., cakes, cookies, pies, crackers, candy, creamers, etc.).

Trans fat is mostly found in food products made with shortening—liquid oil that is processed to become hard. Most of the trans fat Americans eat comes from cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, fried potatoes, household shortening, and stick margarine. Limiting consumption of many processed foods is an easy way to reduce trans fat intake.

For more information on fats and using the Nutrition Facts label to help choose them wisely, read chapter 8, “Fats, Added Sugars, and Salt,”

Sources Of Good And Bad Fats

Good Fat:

(i) Mono-unsaturated: Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pecans and macadamias; Canola oil; Avocados; Nut butters; Olives and Peanut oil

(ii) Polyunsaturated, Omega-6 type: Corn oil, safflower oil, sesame, soy or soybean oil and sunflower seeds or oil, most nuts and seeds

(iii) Polyunsaturated, Omega-3 type: Cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna, sardines and trout; flax seeds or oil, and walnuts

Useful Related Post: Nutrition Tips And Guidelines For Older Adults

Bad Fat:

(i) Saturated: Fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard; cream, butter, cheese, and other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk.

In addition, many processed foods such as cookies, crackers, chips; baked goods sold in market and fried foods can contain high levels of saturated fats. Some plant-based oils, such as palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil, also contain primarily saturated fats, but do not contain cholesterol.

(ii) Trans fat: Stick margarines, shortening, packaged baked goods, cakes, pastries, pies, biscuits (this one surprises a lot of people), cookies (especially with frosting) crackers, cream-filled candies, doughnuts, French fries and other fried foods, and breakfast sandwiches.

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