When eaten in moderation and in place of saturated and trans fat, monounsaturated fats can have a beneficial effect on your heart. Monounsaturated fats are comprised of a chain of carbon with one pair of carbon molecules joined by a double bond. Because these fats only have one double bond, they generally have a liquid consistency at room temperature, but turn slightly solid when chilled. Fats with more than one double bond tend to be solid even at room temperature.
Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats
Improved Blood Cholesterol Levels
There are two main types of cholesterol: low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol because it causes blockages in your artery walls and restricts the flow of blood. High LDL is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and organ damage. HDL is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL from your body and reduces the risks associated with high LDL. Research has shown that consuming monounsaturated fats can reduce LDL and increase HDL cholesterol levels.
Good Source of Fat Soluble Vitamins
Foods high in monounsaturated fats tend to also be a good source of fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K. In order for these vitamins to be properly absorbed, you must have a certain amount of monounsaturated fats in your diet. These vitamins have numerous health benefits including: supporting healthy vision, helping your body absorb essential minerals, helping your blood clot and giving your cells protection from oxidative damage.
Helps Burn Body Fat
Improved Blood Glucose Control
Monounsaturated fats have the ability to stabilize your blood glucose levels. They contain adiponectin, which improves your cell’s ability to absorb glucose from the blood. These fats also improve your cell’s sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that allows your body’s cells to absorb glucose from your blood. For diabetics who struggle to keep their blood glucose levels under control, a diet containing monounsaturated fats is very helpful.
Consuming monounsaturated fats reduce inflammation by interfering with leukotrienes, a naturally produced molecule that contributes to inflammation. Those who suffer from arthritis may find that a diet containing monounsaturated fats will reduce the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.
Reduced Cancer Risks
Olive oil, which contains monounsaturated fats, can protect you from a wide range of cancers, including breast and colon cancer. It is believed that the flavonoids, polyphenols and squalene found in olive oil help protect you from these types of cancers.
How Much Is Too Much
Consuming too much monounsaturated fats will result in weight gain. To avoid weight gain, limit your monounsaturated fats intake to no more than 10 to 20 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Foods With Monounsaturated Fats
- Olive oil
- Canola Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Black and Green Olives
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and pistachios) and Nut Butters
Ways to Cook With Monounsaturated Fats
- Use a bit of olive oil when you saute your vegetables at low-temperature.
- Roll avocadoes with blanched and sliced vegetables in sheets of nori (seaweed) for a heart-healthy, vegetarian sushi roll.
- Add macadamia nut oil in smoothies for a delicious buttery flavor.
- Make your own salad dressing using any of the oils that are high in monounsaturated fats. Dressings usually consist of an oil, a vinegar, a citrus, salt and pepper.
- Dip celery and carrot sticks into raw almond butter for a delightful treat.
- Canola oil has a mild flavor and is great for baking.
- Peanut oil has a nutty flavor and is great for stir-fries and Asian-inspired vinaigrettes.