The myth that all fats are bad for you died out with Tamagotchis and frosted tips. We know that fats are a necessary part of our diets. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are in fact essential, meaning they are not produced by our bodies and must be ingested. Let’s dig into what these tasty monounsaturated fats are and what they can do for you.
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs=Monounsaturated Fatty Acids) is one of four fats found in the common diet. The other three are saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and the infamous trans-fats. Trans-fats are the byproduct of industrial fat production and will clog your arteries faster than you can say double bacon cheeseburger with special sauce. Like monounsaturated fats, saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats possess their own health benefits and should be consumed in moderation.
The melting point of MUFAS is between that of saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which means they are liquid at room temperature and start to solidify when refrigerated. The most common MUFA is oleic acid, which is a fatty acid found in vegetable and animal oils, especially olive oil. Other sources of MUFAs includes avocados, nuts and seeds, olives and dark chocolate.
The most well researched and documented health benefit of MUFAs is their ability to protect against heart disease. By replacing high levels of saturated fats in one’s diet with MUFAs, the body better fends off metabolic syndrome a collection of disorders that increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease.
Studies have also shown that when MUFAs replace trans-fats and polyunsaturated fats in a person’s diet, weight loss increases and insulin sensitivity is improved. The American Heart Association recommends consuming MUFAs to increase your blood lipid profile and decrease cholesterol. The list continues with other awesome benefits such as belly fat reduction, bone strengthening and reduced risk for certain kinds of cancers.
The healthy lifestyles of those who live in the Mediterranean has long been studied for their healthy hearts, lower cancer rates and lengthened lifespans. It’s no surprise than that their diets are filled with unsaturated fats, with MUFAs front and center. Olive oil drenched everything along with tons of other animal and vegetable oils are prevalent in the Mediterranean Diet. See the list below for some ways to incorporate a little healthy Mediterranean flavor into your diet.