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How Much Fat and Carbs Should You Eat Daily? WHO’s New Guidelines

New Horizons in Nutrition: WHO’s Revised Guidelines on Daily Fat and Carbohydrate Intake

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released its revised guidelines for daily fat and carbohydrate intake. This reflects a growing global concern over the surging rates of diet-related non-communicable diseases, and serves to empower the public with information on making healthier food choices. 

The new recommendations, designed to aid in mitigating issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, focus on not just the quantity but also the quality of these macronutrients.

A Revamped Perspective on Fats

Reaffirming its earlier stance, WHO advises that total fat intake should not exceed 30% of daily energy intake.

Total Fat Intake

WHO’s guideline suggests that the total fat intake should be limited to 30% of your daily energy intake. Imagine your total daily energy intake as a pie chart, with the total fat intake making up less than one third of it.

Saturated Fats and Trans-Fats

Out of this fat portion, only 10% should consist of saturated fats and a mere 1% should be trans-fats. This means that in your total fat intake pie slice, only a small sliver should consist of these types of fats.

Unsaturated Fats

The majority of your fat intake, then, should come from unsaturated fatty acids. That’s most of your fat intake pie slice.

The origins of these fats matter. Saturated fatty acids primarily stem from animal-based products like fatty meats and dairy foods, and hard fats such as butter, ghee, palm oil and coconut oil. Conversely, trans-fatty acids often lurk in industrially produced baked goods and fried foods, pre-packaged snacks, and dairy and meat products from ruminant animals like cows and sheep.

To foster healthier eating habits, WHO advises replacing saturated and trans-fatty acids with other nutrients. Individuals can integrate polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids from plant sources, or carbohydrates abundant in naturally occurring dietary fibre into their meals.

Shedding Light on Carbohydrates

Concurrent with its advice on fats, WHO’s updated view on carbohydrates highlights the significance of their quality. Carbohydrates should preferably be sourced from foods that are rich in naturally occurring dietary fibre. This could be from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and pulses.

Whole Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, and Pulses

Visualise your daily diet as a plate. For carbohydrates, the WHO recommends these to come primarily from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and pulses. 

Daily Intake for Adults

Adults are encouraged to consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily, representing four standard apples. Additionally, aim for 25 grams of dietary fibre, which can be likened to a heaping handful of whole grain cereal or a bowl of lentils.

Daily Intake for Children and Adolescents

For the younger age groups, the recommendations differ. Children aged 2 to 5 years should aim for at least 250 grams of fruits and vegetables (about two and a half apples) and 15 grams of dietary fibre. Those aged 6 to 9 years should strive for at least 350 grams of fruits and vegetables (approximately three and a half apples) and 21 grams of dietary fibre.

Fitting into the Larger Framework

These newly updated fat and carbohydrate guidelines are harmonious with WHO’s standing advice to limit the intake of free sugars. They highlight the principle of balanced and nutritious eating, thereby promoting an overall healthier lifestyle. 

Additionally, the organisation has future plans to release more guidelines on polyunsaturated fatty acids and low-sodium salt substitutes, further strengthening the concept of healthy diets.

A Closing Thought: The Path Towards Healthier Living

In essence, WHO’s newly updated guidelines serve as a roadmap guiding us towards healthier food choices. They underscore the necessity of focusing not just on the quantity, but also on the quality of fats and carbohydrates in our daily diets. 

A conscious alignment of our eating habits with these guidelines, when combined with regular physical activity, can significantly reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases and foster a healthier and more fulfilling life.

References

  1. WHO updates guidelines on fats and carbohydrates. (2023, July 17). WHO Updates Guidelines on Fats and Carbohydrates. https://www.who.int/news/item/17-07-2023-who-updates-guidelines-on-fats-and-carbohydrates

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