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Page | Last updated: 18 Feb 2021

Dietary recommendations for fat intake

Dietary Fats

Dietary recommendations for fat intake as described by food- and health-related organisations

Total Fats

Source

Dietary recommendation

EFSA 2010
  • Not sufficient data to define a Lower Threshold Intake or Tolerable Upper Intake Level for total fat.
  • Only a Reference Intake range can be established: 20 – 35 E% for all age groups, except for infants aged 6-12 months (40 E%) and children aged 12-36 months (35- 40 E%.)
FAO 2010 (pdf)
  • Minimum total fat intake for adults set at 15 E%, to ensure adequate total energy, essential FA and fat-soluble vitamins. For women of reproductive age as well as adults with BMI <18.5, especially in developing countries, minimum is 20 E%.
  • Maximum intake of 30-35 E%.
  • For populations with insufficient energy intake, dietary fats are important macronutrients that can 'contribute to increase energy intake to more appropriate levels'.
DGE 2015b
  • Guiding value for adults: 30 E% & 35 E% under conditions of high physical activity.
NNR 2012 (pdf)
  • 'The total fat recommendation is 25–40 E% and is based on the recommended ranges for different fatty acid categories'.
ESC/ EAS 2011
  • Fat intake <35 E%; recommended range 25-35 E%. 'Conversely, a low intake of fats and oils increases the risk of inadequate intakes of vitamin E and of essential fatty acids, and may contribute to unfavourable changes in HDL'.
AFSSA 2010 (pdf)
  • Total lipid intake of 35-45 E% is recommended in adults.
FSA 2007 , SACN 2008 (pdf)
  • Population average intake at 35 E% maximum to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce energy density of diets.
DGAC 2015
  • 'In low-fat diets, fats are often replaced with refined carbohydrates and this is of particular concern because such diets are generally associated with dyslipidemia (hypertriglyceridemia and low HDL cholesterol concentrations)'.
  • 'Therefore, dietary advice should put the emphasis on optimizing types of dietary fat and not reducing total fat'.
AND 2014
  • 'dietary fat for the healthy adult population should provide 20% to 35% of energy'.
IOM 2005
  • Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) at 20-35 E% for ages >4 yrs., and 30-40% for ages 1-3 yrs.
  • 'Active people can probably consume relatively high-fat diets while maintaining their body weight.'
Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Europe
  • Most countries recommend limiting total amount of fat consumed. Where quantitative recommendations are made they refer to a maximum of 30% E daily intake from total fat.

WHO 2003 (pdf) WHO FBDG webpage

  • Food based dietary guidelines from several of the WHO European Region countries recommend less than 30 E% daily intake from total fat.

 

Saturated Fatty Acids

Source Dietary recommendation
EFSA 2010
  • 'SFA are synthesised by the body and are not required in the diet'.
  • 'SFA intake should be as low as is possible within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet.
  • 'Limiting the intake of saturated fatty acids should be considered when establishing nutrient goals and recommendations'.
FAO 2010 (pdf)
  • Replace SFA with PUFA (omega-3 and omega-6) in the diet; total SFA intake no more than 10 E%.
DGE 2015b
  • 7-10 E% from SFA.
NNR 2012 (pdf)
  • Intake of saturated fatty acids (expressed as triglycerides) should be limited to less than 10 E%.
ESC/ EAS 2011
  • To improve plasma lipids, SFA intake should be lower than 10 E% and should be further reduced to <7% of total intake in the presence of hypercholesterolaemia.
AFSSA 2010 (pdf)
  • 'it is advisable to distinguish the subgroup of ‘lauric, myristic, and palmitic acid, which is atherogenic in the event of excess'- Maximum recommended intake of 8 E%.
  • 'Other saturated FAs, particularly the short and medium chains, have no known harmful effect and some of them even have rather beneficial effects. However, at present, it is not possible to establish recommendations for them'
  •  Maintain total SFA intake <12 E%.
FSA 2007 , SACN 2008 (pdf) Population average intake at 11 E% maximum to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and reduce energy density of diets.
DGAC 2015
  • Emphasize replacing SFA with unsaturated fats, especially PUFA.
  • Recommendations to retain 10 E% as upper limit for SFA intake.
  • 'When individuals reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, they should not replace them with foods high in saturated fat […] should be replaced by healthy sources of fats (e.g., non-hydrogenated vegetable oils that are high unsaturated fats, and nuts/seeds).
AND 2014
  • Recommends 'limited intake of saturated […] fats'.
AHA/ ACC 2013
  • Recommends that adults who would benefit from LDL cholesterol lowering to reduce E% from saturated fat, aim for a dietary pattern that achieves 5-6 E% from saturated fat, and reduce E% from trans fats.
IOM 2005
  • 'It is neither possible nor advisable to achieve zero percent of energy from saturated fatty acids […] in typical diets, since this would require extraordinary dietary changes that may lead to inadequate protein and micronutrient intake, as well as other undesirable effects.
  • Recommendation to keep SFA consumption 'as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet'.
WHO FBDG webpage , WHO webpage Food based dietary guidelines from several of the WHO European Region countries recommend less than 10 E% daily intake from saturated fats.

 

 

Monounsaturated fatty acids

Source

Dietary recommendation

EFSA 2010
  • No Dietary Reference Value (DRV) set - MUFA are synthesised in the body, have no known role in preventing or promoting diet-related diseases, and are not indispensable diet constituents
FAO 2010 (pdf)
  • No specific recommendation - WHO notes that determination of MUFA intake (in E%) is unique since it is calculated by difference of TF and SFA & PUFA intake (i.e. MUFA = TF-SFA-PUFA) and 'therefore, the MUFA intake resulting may cover a wide range depending on the total fat intake and dietary fatty acid pattern'.
DGE 2015b
  • No specific recommendation - the proportion of MUFA intake is calculated from the difference between total fat and the SFA + PUFA.
NNR 2012 (pdf)
  • MUFA intake (expressed as triglycerides) should be 10–20% of the energy intake (E%).
  • MUFA and PUFA 'should constitute at least two thirds of the total fatty acids in the diet.'
ESC/ EAS 2011
  • Fat intake should come from sources of MUFAs and both omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs.
AFSSA 2010 (pdf)
  • Range of 15-20 E% for oleic acid.
FSA 2007 , SACN 2008 (pdf)
  • Population average intake at 13 E%.
DGAC 2015
  • 'Non-hydrogenated vegetable oils that are high in unsaturated fats and relatively low in SFA (e.g., soybean, corn, olive, and canola oils) instead of animal fats or tropical oils (e.g. palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils) should be recommended as the primary source of dietary fat.'
Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Europe
  • Generally, EU countries recommend using high-quality vegetable oils high in MUFA and PUFA instead of animal fats.

 

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Source

Dietary recommendation

FAO 2010 (pdf)
  • For the purpose of lowering LDL and total cholesterol concentration, increasing HDL and decreasing the risk of CHD, recommended total PUFA consumption should be 6 -11 E%.
  • To prevent deficiency, minimum intake should be 2.5 E% and 0.5 E% for linoleic and α-linolenic acid respectively, and range between 2.5 – 3.5 E% for total PUFA
  • No specific recommendations for an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, or linoleic to α-linolenic acid ratio, if intakes are within the above recommendations.
  • For adults, 250 mg of EPA +DHA is recommended. For pregnant and lactating women, minimum should be 300 mg, of which at least 200 mg DHA.
EFSA 2010
  • Adequate Intake for linoleic and α-linolenic acid at 4 and 0.5 E% respectively (based on lowest estimated mean intakes in European populations where deficiency symptoms are absent).
  • Adequate Intake for linoleic acid at 4 E% (based on lowest estimated mean intakes in European populations where deficiency symptoms are absent).
  • For EPA + DHA, adequate intake of 250 mg daily for adults, based on cardiovascular considerations. Insufficient evidence to set adequate intake levels for children 2-18 yrs., however adult recommendations apply. During pregnancy and lactation, for adequate intake, 100 - 200 mg of DHA should be added to the general recommendation. For older infants (> 6 months and < 24 months) adequate intake of DHA set at 100 mg.
DGE 2015b
  • The sum of n-6 and n-3 fatty acids should be 7-10 E%.
NNR 2012 (pdf)
  • Intake of PUFA (expressed as triglycerides) should be 5–10 E%, of which omega-3 should provide at least 1 E%.
  • MUFA and PUFA 'should constitute at least two thirds of the total fatty acids in the diet'.
  • 'Linoleic and α-linolenic acids are essential fatty acids and should contribute at least 3 E%, including at least 0.5 E% as a-linolenic acid. For pregnant and lactating women, the essential fatty acids should contribute at least 5 E%, including 1 E% from omega-3 fatty acids of which 200 mg/d should be DHA'.
ESC/ EAS 2011
  • Fat intake should come from sources of MUFAs and both omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs. Intake of omega-6 PUFAs should be limited to <10 E%, 'both to minimize the risk of lipid peroxidation of plasma lipoproteins and to avoid any clinically relevant HDL cholesterol decrease'.
  • 'not enough data are available to make a recommendation regarding the optimal n-3/n-6 fatty acid ratio'.
AFSSA 2010 (pdf)
  • For linoleic acid and α-linolenic, minimum intakes at 2 E% and 0.8 E% , respectively, while population reference intake set at 4 E% and 1 E% respectively, in adult populations.
  • For DHA and EPA, population reference intake at 250 mg/day each, in adults populations.

FSA 2007 SACN 2008 (pdf)

  • Population average intake at 6.5 E%.
DGAC 2015
  • 'Non-hydrogenated vegetable oils that are high in unsaturated fats and relatively low in SFA (e.g. soybean, corn, olive, and canola oils) instead of animal fats or tropical oils (e.g., palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils) should be recommended as the primary source of dietary fat'.
AND 2014
  • Recommends 'increased consumption for n-3 PUFA'.
IOM 2005
  • Acceptable macronutrient distribution range for omega-6 and omega-3 PUFA set at 5-10 E% and 0.6-1.2 E% respectively for all age groups.
Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Europe
  • Generally, EU countries recommend using high-quality vegetable oils high in MUFA and PUFA instead of animal fats.

 

Trans fatty acids

Source

Dietary recommendation

EFSA 2010
  • 'Trans fatty acids are not synthesised by the human body and are not required in the diet'.
  • 'Dietary TFA are provided by several fats and oils that are also important sources of essential fatty acids and other nutrients. Thus, there is a limit to which the intake of TFA can be lowered without compromising adequacy of intake of essential nutrients'.
  • Recommendation for an intake that is 'as low as is possible within the context of a nutritionally adequate diet. Limiting the intake of trans fatty acids should be considered when establishing nutrient goals and recommendations'.
DGE 2015b
  • Less than 1 E% from TFA.
NNR 2012 (pdf)
  • 'Intake of trans-fatty acids should be kept as low as possible'.
ESC/ EAS 2011
  • Energy from TFA <1% of total intake.

FSA 2007 SACN 2008 (pdf)

  • Population average intake at 2 E% maximum.
FDA 2018
  • Since June 2015 FDA no longer considers iTFAs as 'Generally Recognised As Safe' (GRAS) for human nutrition.
  • 'FDA encourages consumers seeking to reduce trans-fat intake to check a food’s ingredient list to determine whether or not it contains PHOs'.
DGAC 2015
  • 'Intake of trans-fatty acids should be kept as low as possible.'
AND 2014
  • Recommends limited intake of trans fats
IOM 2005
  • 'Trans fatty acids confer no known health benefits'.
  • 'It is neither possible nor advisable to achieve zero percent of energy from […] TFA in typical diets, since this would require extraordinary dietary changes that may lead to inadequate protein and micronutrient intake, as well as other undesirable effects.
  • Recommendation to keep TFA consumption 'as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet'.

 

Dietary cholesterol

Source

Dietary recommendation

EFSA 2010
  • 'Cholesterol is synthesised by the body and is not required in the diet'.
  • 'Most dietary cholesterol is obtained from foods which are also significant sources of dietary saturated fatty acids, e.g. dairy and meat products.
  • Dietary reference values specifically for dietary cholesterol are not set (besides from recommendations on SFA intake).
ESC/ EAS 2011
  • 'Cholesterol intake in the diet should ideally be below 300 mg/day'.
DGAC 2015
  • Although the limit for dietary cholesterol was previously set to a maximum of 300 mg/day, the 2015 DGAC does not uphold this recommendation any longer because 'available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol' and therefore 'Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption'.
IOM 2005
  • No evidence for biological requirement of dietary cholesterol'.
  • 'Because cholesterol is unavoidable in ordinary non-vegan diets, eliminating cholesterol in the diet would require significant dietary changes. These changes require careful planning to ensure adequate intakes of proteins and certain micronutrients. Still, it is possible to eat a low cholesterol, yet nutritionally adequate, diet'.
  • 'Recommended that people maintain their dietary cholesterol intake as low as possible, while consuming a diet that is nutritionally adequate in all required nutrients'