Avoid products that contain more than
20% of their calories from fat
To determine the percentage of calories from fat, divide the calories from fat by the total number of calories in the product. Currently, labels contain the calories and calories from fat. However, in the next few years labels will be changed and consumers will need to be able to calculate the calories from fat on their own. For now, start by looking for the calories from fat on the label. Once you have found that, divide the calories from fat by the total calories. Do NOT look at the % Daily Value on the Nutrition Facts panel. Always calculate fat as shown below.
However, in order to better prepare individuals for the label change an example of how to determine the percentage of calories from fat is provided for review. In the next few years consumers will need to determine the total fat in grams and the percentage of total fat on their own. In this example, this product contains 6 grams (g) of total fat. There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat. Next take 6g of fat times 9 calories per gram. 6 x 9 = 54 calories. On this label the manufacturer rounds down to 50 calories from fat. Once you have determined the calories from fat calculate the percentage of calories from fat using the calculation below.
Example from label: 50 calories from fat/120 total calories = .416 X 100 = 41.6 or rounded up to 42%.
This product contains 42% fat per serving. The serving size is 1 ounce. Due to the percentage of fat contained within the product being over 20% it is strongly discouraged that anyone purchase this. For those with cardiovascular disease it is recommended that the calories from fat be under 20%. That means no more than 2g grams of fat per 100 calories.
Remember 1g of fat contains 9 calories.
1g of fat times 9 calories = 9. 9 fat calories/100 calories = .09 X 100 = 9 or rounded up to 10% fat.
2g of fat X 9 calories equals 18 calories. 18 fat calories /100 calories = .18% X 100 = 18 or rounded up to 20% fat.
Watch this video on When “fat free” really means 100% fat with Jeff Novick.
The above equation is provided to help calculate the percentage of calories from fat. This calculation may be helpful for those determining if a product should be purchased or not. Ensure the total calories from fat are under 20%.
Why 20% Fat?
Pre-industrialized countries following whole foods plant-based diets experience almost no adverse coronary events. The amount of fat generally consumed in these diets is typically under 15% of total calories from fat. The fat in these diets generally comes from whole plant-based foods. These diets, while relatively low in fat, also contain minimal amounts of meat, and almost no oil. The diets of the Okinawan, Tarahumara Indians’, Pima Indians, and those in rural Thailand all contain less than 12% of total calories from fat (Willcox et al., 2007; Cerqueira, Fry, and Connor, 1979; Boyce, and Swinburn, 1993; Kosulwat, 2002). All of these diets are predominantly whole foods plant-based/vegetarian/vegan diets.
In fact, two diets proven to reverse heart disease contain approximately 10% of their calories from fat. In August 2010, after years of peer-reviewed published scientific literature, two programs were proven to have beneficial effects on stopping and even reversing the progression of heart disease. These programs are the Pritikin program and Ornish diets consisting of 10% of calories from fat or less, which are now covered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Horrigan, 2010, p. 346).
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