Fat has the highest energy density of the macronutrients. In addition to being a concentrated form of energy, fats help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A. Dietary fats may be saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated, depending on their chemical structure. In general, saturated fats are found in animal-based foods, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in plant-based foods, although there are some exceptions.1
Fat contributed an average 31% of the population's dietary energy intake. Saturated fat (including trans fatty acids) contributed an average 12% of energy, while monounsaturated fat also contributed 12% and polyunsaturated fat contributed 4.7%. Between 1995 and 2011-12, the contribution of saturated fat declined by around one percentage point, which although small was statistically significant see Table 2.1.
Linoleic acid is a particular type of polyunsaturated fatty acid associated with blood lipid profiles seen as having a lower risk of coronary heart disease. It is found in vegetable oils (such as safflower, grapeseed and sunflower) as well as nuts and seeds.1 Linoleic acid contributed 3.9% of energy, just below the lower bound of the AMDR (4-10%). Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a plant-based omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid which is considered a small but important component of dietary intake in relation to helping reduce coronary heart disease risk. It is found in vegetable oils such as canola and linseed or flaxseed, nuts, and seeds. The average contribution of ALA to total dietary energy was 0.6% which is within the AMDR (0.4-1%) The leading food sources for Total Fat include Mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient (11%), Beef, sheep and pork (8.0% including mixed dishes), Poultry (7.4% including mixed dishes), Dairy milk (5.0%) and Cakes, muffins, scones and cake-type desserts (4.2%) see Table 10.5.
1. National Health and Medical Research Council 2006, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, Canberra: National Health and Medical
Research Council < http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/fats-total-fat-fatty-acids>, Last accessed 30/04/2014. Back