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  [ 15 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • March 6, 2003

Unlike protein and carbohydrates, fat is an extremely concentrated form of energy that contains little water. Among its many important tasks are aiding in the absorption of many essential vitamins, helping maintain the structure and function of cell membranes and assisting your body's immune system. But too much fat can have a negative effect on your health, such as increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

The food you eat has several different kinds of fat, including:

Saturated fat. This type of fat can be found in butter, cheese, whole milk, cream, eggs, meat, poultry, chocolate, coconut, palm oil, lard and solid shortenings.

Polyunsaturated fat. Vegetable oils, such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils, are high in polyunsaturated fat.

Trans fat. Most margarines and shortenings are high in trans fat. Commercial baked goods and fried foods, such as doughnuts or french fries, also have significant amounts of trans fat.

Monounsaturated fat. Foods high in monounsaturated fat include avocados, nuts, and olive, peanut and canola oils.

About 20 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fat. To reduce fat in your diet, choose lean foods — such as fish, skinless white poultry and low-fat dairy products — and eat more foods naturally low in fat, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

(Source: Mayo Clinic website -

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