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Facts on Fats – Nutritional recommendations on fatty acids

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The margarine industry is committed to the promotion of good health. This includes promoting education and awareness on nutrition. Part of our role is to spread objective information and facts about fats so that consumers can better control the quality of their intake.

Why do we need fats in our diets?

In a healthy balanced diet, the energy that you consume needs to be balanced with the energy that you use for normal body functions and your physical exercise. Based on decades of research, the World Health Organization recommends that adults should derive from 20% up to 30-35% of their daily energy (calories) from fats (1). Besides being a source of energy, fat provides essential building blocks for the cells in the body, is a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and contains essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6). It also makes food taste good, look good and feel good! We need to eat a reasonable amount of fat every day to stay healthy.

Less saturated fat and more polyunsaturated fat!

The key is to take the right quantity and to optimize the quality of fat. The type and amount of fat you choose has an important impact on your health. For example, inappropriate energy balance (i.e. energy consumption versus energy expenditure) can lead to weight gain or loss, while choices relating to the type of fat consumed (e.g. saturated versus unsaturated fat) can increase risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. It is for these reasons that dietary recommendations, such as those of the WHO/FAO (World Health Organisation / Food and Agriculture Organisation) [1] and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) [2], point towards diets that moderate fat intake, replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats and reduce as much as possible trans fatty acid intake.
Knowing about the different types of fats and being able to identify them is the first step to a healthy diet!
I don’t eat nutrients, I eat food! What is recommended?

The Dutch Food Center (Voedingscentrum) [6] provides a very simple tip to keep in mind when shopping and cooking: the softer, the better! The harder a fat is, the more saturated fats it contains. Similarly, the softer it is, the more unsaturated fats it has. This is why cooking with liquid vegetable oils is healthier than with a wrapped-up butter. The same goes for spreading your bread!

There is also what we call “hidden fats” because they are in food products we consume, such as meat, biscuits, ready-made meals, cakes, etc. In this case, it is important to carefully read the nutritional labels and pay attention to the overall amount of fat and the share of saturated fats in the product.

To download our factsheet, please click here.


                        Recommendations throughout Europe

“Fatty fish, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, and vegetable oil-based fat spreads that provide essential and unsaturated fatty acids should be prioritized. Animal products high in fat contribute saturated fatty acids. A switch from high-fat to low-fat dairy will contribute to an improved fat quality while sustaining micronutrient density.”
Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012
“There is also evidence from dietary intervention studies that decreasing the intakes of products rich in saturated fatty acids by replacement with products rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (without changing total fat intake) decreased the number of cardiovascular events.” EFSA, Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fats, 2010
“Eating unsaturated fats instead of saturated can help lower blood cholesterol.” NHS, Fats: the facts, 2013

“Fett ist besonders energiereich, daher kann zu viel Nahrungsfett Übergewicht fördern. Zu viele gesättigte Fettsäuren erhöhen das Risiko für Fettstoffwechselstörungen, mit der möglichen Folge von Herz-Kreisauf-Krankheiten. Bevorzugen Sie pflanzliche Öle und Fette (z. B. Raps- und Sojaöl und daraus hergestellte Streichfette).”  Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung, 10 Regel der DGE, 2011
“Onverzadigd vet heeft een positief effect op de gezondheid. Producten met veel verzadigd vet zijn minder gezond. Het is dus belangrijk om deze twee soorten te herkennen.” Voedingscentrum, Schijf van vijf

“Certains produits sont à limiter dans la mesure du possible : le beurre, certaines charcuteries, les viennoiseries et pâtisseries, les produits frits ou panés, certains plats préparés… qui contiennent notamment des acides gras saturés. »  Manger Bouger. Programme National Nutrition Santé. Les 9 repères.

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