Mayo Clinic Health Library

Exchange list: Fats

Updated: 09-18-2012

Fats come in various types. Unsaturated fats — including monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats — are healthy if eaten in small amounts. But saturated fats and trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease.

No matter which type of fat you choose, one fat exchange equals 5 grams of fat and 45 calories. Fats in the amounts listed below equal one exchange. Remember to include any fats you use for cooking as part of your daily fat allowance.

Type Food Serving size
Monounsaturated fats    
  Almonds 6
Avocado 2 tablespoons (1 ounce)
Brazil nuts 2
Cashews 6
Filberts (hazelnuts) 5
Macadamia nuts 3
Nut butters, trans-free: almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter (smooth or crunchy) 1 1/2 teaspoon
Oil: canola, olive, peanut 1 teaspoon
Olives, black 8 large
Olives, green with pimento 10 large
Peanuts 10
Pecans 4 halves
Pistachios 16
Polyunsaturated fats    
  Margarine, low-fat spread, 30 to 50 percent vegetable oil, trans-free 1 tablespoon
Margarine, trans-free: squeeze, stick, tub 1 teaspoon
Mayonnaise, reduced-fat 1 tablespoon
Mayonnaise, regular 1 teaspoon
Mayonnaise-style salad dressing, reduced-fat 1 tablespoon
Mayonnaise-style salad dressing, regular 2 teaspoons
Oil: corn, cottonseed, flaxseed, grape seed, safflower, soybean, sunflower 1 teaspoon
Pine nuts 1 tablespoon
Salad dressing, reduced-fat 2 tablespoons
Salad dressing, regular 1 tablespoon
Seeds: flaxseed, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower 1 tablespoon
Tahini (sesame paste) 2 teaspoons
Walnuts 4 halves
Saturated fats    
  Bacon, cooked, regular or turkey 1 slice
Butter, reduced-fat 1 tablespoon
Butter, stick 1 teaspoon
Butter, whipped 2 teaspoons
Coconut, shredded 2 tablespoons
Cream: half-and-half, whipped 2 tablespoons
Cream, heavy 1 tablespoon
Cream, light 1 1/2 tablespoons
Cream cheese, reduced-fat 1 1/2 tablespoons
Cream cheese, regular 1 tablespoon
Oil: coconut, palm, palm kernel 1 teaspoon
Shortening or lard 1 teaspoon
Sour cream, reduced-fat 3 tablespoons
Sour cream, regular 2 tablespoons

Modified with permission from "Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes." American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association; 2008. While designed primarily for people who have diabetes and others who must follow special diets, the exchange lists are based on principles of good nutrition that apply to everyone.

As you consider the type and amount of fat in your diet, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • All fats are high in calories, so limit serving sizes.
  • Choose monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Limit saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Choose regular soft margarines that list liquid oil as the first ingredient, or choose reduced-calorie margarines made with liquid oil that list water as the first ingredient.
  • Fat-free spreads and dressings may be lower in calories, especially if you limit your serving size. Check the labels of fat-free products to see how many calories they contain. If you're not sure how to use fat-free products in your meal plan, ask your dietitian.