Because oils contain the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, there is an allowance for oils in the MyPlate food guide.
Oils are the major source of fatty acids that are necessary for health—called “essential fatty acids.”
While consuming some oil is needed for health, oils still contain calories. In fact, oils and solid fats both contain about 120 calories per tablespoon. Therefore, the amount of oil consumed needs to be limited to balance total calorie intake. To find out how many calories you need every day, take the Healthy Eating My Way quiz.
In addition to vegetable oils, such as olive, canola and soybean oils, a number of foods are naturally high in fats, like:
Good News About Sweets
Chocolate is a favorite sweet treat that also has health benefits. It contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease.
While chocolate contains ingredients beneficial to health, it does not mean you should overeat chocolate. Chocolate bars and candies are often high in fat, sugar and calories. Moderation is always the key and dark chocolate conveys more benefits than milk chocolate!
Sweets and fats can contribute to optimum health due to the health promoting phytochemicals they may contain – many of which are still being identified.
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate.gov Website. Washington DC. What are 'oils?' http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/oils.html. Accessed March 9, 2015.
2. Kim J, Kim J, Shim J, Lee CY, Lee KW, Lee HJ. Cocoa phytochemicals: recent advances in molecular mechanisms on health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(11):1458-72.
3. Benzie IF, Choi SW. Antioxidants in food; content, measurement, significance, action, cautions, caveats, and research needs. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2014;71:1-53.