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Following a healthy diet

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Fat-Is it really an enemy?

As a girl’s body grows and forms new curves to become the shape of a woman’s body during puberty, one of the primal worries of teenage girls is how to avoid fat and fat foods.

What is fat actually? Did you ever wonder? Fat is essential for your physical structure and important for many functions of the body. During preadolescence, girls have 20% body fat whereas boys have 15%, while muscle tissue is almost the same in both genders. However, during adulthood this percentage is doubled in girls, whereas boys double their muscle tissue. Fat is approximately the 35% of your daily energy intake. Some of the most important functions of fat are:

  Carries and absorbs vitamins

  Helps biosynthesize hormones

Provides energy

  Maintains proper body temperature

There are two types of fats, the “good” ones and the “bad” ones. Healthy fat can be found in nuts, fish, olive oil and avocados that provide the body with sufficient amounts of “good’ fat (the so called unsaturated), whereas red meat, butter and processed foods such as sweets, potato ships, croissant are rich in bad fats (trans and saturated fats). Our body can benefit from getting the right amount of healthy fats.

The “good” fats, the “unsaturated”, are divided into two categories:

-The monounsaturated fats, mostly found in fibrous foods, olive oil and fish.

-The polyunsaturated fats, mostly found in oily fish, dry fruit and vegetable oil (margarine, sunflower oil). The polyunsaturated are a very good source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Ideal percentage of calories

Almost 35% of our daily calories comes from fat. The ideal percentage is:

  8 % from saturated fats

  15% of monounsaturated fats

12% of polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids)

Healthy fat sources

  Oils-olive oil, sunflower oil (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated)

Red meat (mostly saturated)

Oily/fatty fish ( salmon, sardines, mackerel -mostly polyunsaturated)

Margarine, butter ( saturated, monounsaturated)

Dairy products ( saturated)

  Dry fruit (both monounsaturated, polyunsaturated)

  Avocado (monounsaturated)

  Sweets-processed foods (mostly saturated)

Always remember that:

-It is very important to choose the healthy amount of fats for your everyday diet and benefit from their consumption.

– Overconsumption of processed foods and fatty meat, such as bacon and sausage, can cause obesity and type 2 diabetes.

– The consumption of  rich in “good”’ fats (i.e. avocado, dried fruit, oily fish) foods should be done wisely, since fats, no matter “good” or “bad” ones, have  the greatest amount of food energy per gram (9kcal).

Maria Skoura

Nutritionist, Scientific Associate of the Greek Society of Adolescent Medicine

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