Authors as Published

Stephanie K. Goodwin, R.D., Graduate Assistant, Family Nutrition Program

Fat is a necessary part of a healthy diet. It is found in some foods like nuts, oils, butter, and meats like beef. Fat is not a bad food. Instead of avoiding fat, you should try to include a little bit of fat at each meal. Dietary fat provides the most calories compared to protein foods and carbohydrate foods. You, as a kid, especially need a certain amount of fat in your diet so that your brain and nervous system develop correctly. Fat also helps protect your organs and helps your body absorb essential vitamins!

Are all fats created equal?

No. There are two main types of fat, saturated and unsaturated.

Limit saturated fat.

This type of fat is found mostly in animal products:

red meat (hamburger, hot dog, bacon, sausage, bologna)
chicken fingers or other fried chicken
ice cream
baked goods (cookies, pastries, cake)
high-fat dairy products (full-fat cheese, ice cream, whole milk, 2% milk, sour cream)
ranch dressing
chocolate or candy bars
french fries
cream sauces
gravy made with meat drippings

Foods from the saturated fat group are NOT your best choice, but they are okay to eat every now and then.

Eat more unsaturated fat.

This type of fat is found mostly in plant products and fish:

olive oil and olives
canola oil
safflower oil
peanut butter and peanut oil
nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, peanuts)
pumpkin or sunflower seeds
baked fish (tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel)
soft tub margarine
homemade salad dressing (olive oil and vinegar)
sesame seeds
tofu and other soybean products

Unsaturated fat is considered a healthy fat and you should eat it more often than saturated fat.


Source: Kids health for kids: Learning about Fat,

Reviewed by Kathy Hosig, Ph.D., associate professor, Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise.

This publication was partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low incomes. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local county or city Department of Social Services (phone listed under city/county government).  For help finding a local number, call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays).  By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services. 

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To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call, toll free, (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

This publication was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, CSREES.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

October 19, 2010