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How Much Oil Should You Eat?

by Nicole Crawford

Oils and other fats are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet and help the body to absorb vitamins and nutrients. As with other dietary matters, the recommended oil intake varies from person to person. Consult your physician to determine the best amount for you, particularly if you have any health conditions.

Amount

Daily oil intake recommendations vary based on your gender, age and activity level. For example, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), women age 19 to 30 years who exercise for less than 30 minutes each day should consume about 6 teaspoons of oils each day, and women above age 30 years need 5 teaspoons. These recommendations might be a bit higher for women who exercise more on a daily basis.

Calorie Ratio

In addition to how much oil you consume per day, you should also consider the ratio of your fat intake to your overall calorie intake. For optimal health benefit, try to limit your total fat intake to between 20 and 35 percent of your total calorie intake, as recommended by the USDA. For example, if you consume 1,500 calories per day, you should make sure that only 300 to 525 of those calories are from fats, including oils.

Types

Oils can be divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both groups are considered to be good fats because they provide benefits for the heart, cholesterol and general health. Monounsaturated fats include olive, canola, sunflower, peanut and sesame oils. Polyunsaturated fats include soybean, corn, safflower and flaxseed oils. As noted by the USDA, many foods also have a high oil content, like mayonnaise, salad dressings and soft margarine. Although most oils are plant-based, not all fats that are plant-derived are considered good fats, like palm and coconut oil.

Oils vs. Solid Fats

Unlike oils, many solid fats are considered to be unhealthy and should be avoided whenever possible. As a rule of thumb, avoid any food products that contain trans fats because these have been linked to cancer, heart problems and other chronic disease. They are commonly found in baked goods, fried foods, snack foods, premixed products like cake mixes and solid fats like semisolid shortening and stick margarine. The USDA also recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to 10 percent or less of your total daily calorie intake. Saturated fat sources include butter, cheese, milk and red meat.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.