Healthy Fat Intake
Most people have heard the message that fat is high in calories and can be a contributor to heart disease, but the average consumer is less likely to identify which fats are harmful to heart health.
Since not all fats are created equal when it comes to the impact on heart health, food manufacturers can help their customers by highlighting the “good fats” within their products.
People can maximize their heart health by choosing more unsaturated fats or fats that are liquid at room temperature. Oils provide a variety of essential fatty acids which are needed for growth and health and they are a good source of vitamin E. Since consumers are aware of the calorie content of fat it is important that food manufacturers keep total fat content of products in mind when shifting from solid fats to liquid oils and that they provide information on why the healthier oil was chosen for the product.
Providing an explanation about the benefits of soybean oil or defining essential fatty acids can help food companies demonstrate how they are helping consumers improve their health with the change in type of fat. There is still general confusion among consumers about why essential fats are needed or even which fats are essential, so building this information into packaging and product information could help change many purchasing and eating behaviors.
By Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA
Director of University Nutrition
Washington University in St Louis
American Dietetic Assn. Past President