Many people, including many experts, believe that eating too much fat is bad for a person's health. Fat is more complex than that, however. The type of fat a person eats is important to consider.
There are a variety of fat sources available, ranging from fats present directly in foods like dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and certain vegetables, to fats we add to foods like oil derived from nuts, olives, and various seeds. Typically, three types of fat are talked about: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Another group that must be considered are trans fats, fats that tend to stay solid at room temperature, which include certain vegetable oils, especially those that have been hydrogenated.
In order to consider whether a person is eating too much fat, he must know the types he is eating, which means reading labels and being conscious in his food choices. One should also think about what constitutes "too much," because this can help inform food choices. Eating too little fat can be almost as detrimental to the body as too much fat. Thus it’s important to have a target.
Traditionally, most dietitians, doctors, and health agencies have recommended that no more than 30% of a person's daily calories come from fat. More importantly, only small amounts of one's daily calorie intake should be made up of saturated fat. Trans fats, oil to which hydrogen is added, should be kept to bare minimum intake because it is not healthy, and has little to offer in the way of nutritional benefits. This doesn’t mean a person can’t occasionally indulge in a little bit of these "bad" fats, but choosing better fats, such as those that are monounsaturated, is a healthier choice.
Many experts believe that when a person eats too much "bad" fat, he opens himself up to a number of conditions and diseases. One that is of chief concern is obesity. The growing number of Americans who are obese, and the rate of child obesity, has become increasingly a concern. Being overweight can shorten life span, raise risk of conditions like diabetes, and raise the risk of certain forms of cancer.
Consuming too much saturated fat may not only cause weight gain, but may also have a negative effect on your arteries. Saturated fat consumption boosts "bad" cholesterol, which in turn creates plaque buildup in arteries. This can lead to a variety of heart disease problems like blocked valves that require bypass surgery, and to blood clotting in thinned arteries, which can result in stroke. Trans fat has been shown to correlate to higher risk of cancer, particularly certain cancers that are still difficult to treat, such as breast cancer. High blood pressure is also a concern.
This doesn’t mean people should eat no fat. Certain vitamins are fat soluble, and people who have no-fat diets find they may lose less weight. It’s simply important not to go overboard, and to try to eat "good" fats, those that are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Follow your doctor, nutritionist, or government guidelines for healthy eating.