​How Much Fat Do I Need?

  • There are many different kinds of fats in the diet but the only essential fats are linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid)

  • Essential fats are needed to maintain the structural parts of cell membranes and to make hormone like substances that regulate blood pressure, blood clot formation, blood lipids and the immune response to injury and infection

  • The table below lists the amounts of essential fats needed each day

Linoleic Acid (g/d)

Linolenic Acid (g/d)

Males 19-50



Males >50



Females 19-50



Females >50



Plant-Based Sources of Essential Fats

  • Linoleic acid (omega-6) is found in grains, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed)

  • Linolenic acid (omega-3) is found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and canola oil

  • Most people get too much linoleic acid (omega-6) but not enough linolenic acid (omega-3)

  • The table below highlights which foods are richest in linolenic acid 


Linolenic Acid (omega-3) 

Flaxseed, ground, 2 tbsp

3.6 g

Flaxseed oil, 1 tbsp

8 g

Hemp seeds, 2 tbsp

1 g

Hemp oil, 1 tbsp

2.7 g

Walnuts, 1 oz (~1/4 cup)

2.6 g

Chia seed, 2 tbsp

4.5 g

Canola oil, 1 tbsp

1.6 g

Edamame, cooked, 1 cup

1 g

Tofu, firm, 1/2 cup

0.7 g

What Fats Should I Avoid?

  • Saturated fats and trans-fats increase cholesterol and should be avoided

  • Saturated fats in plant-foods are found in high amounts in coconut oil and palm oil and in smaller amounts in all other vegetable oils (including olive)

  • Trans-fats are found in baked goods, fried foods and in any packaged food that contains "partially hydrogenated oil" 


 Please check out this video by Dr. Greger if you are curious about coconut oil:

References used for all of the nutrient pages can be found at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts page. Click here.


Kristen Zaier, ​​Plant-Based RD