Monounsaturated fats can have a beneficial effect on your heart when eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated fat and trans fat in your diet.
What are monounsaturated fats?
From a chemical standpoint, monounsaturated fats are simply fat molecules that have one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, this is also called a double bond. Oils that contain monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled. Olive oil is an example of a type of oil that contains monounsaturated fats.
How do monounsaturated fats affect my health?
Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of.
Are monounsaturated fats better for me than saturated fats or trans fats?
Yes. While, all fats provide 9 calories per gram, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can have a positive effect on your health, when eaten in moderation. The bad fats –saturated fats and trans fats – can negatively affect your health.
Which foods contain monounsaturated fats?
Most foods contain a combination of different fats.
Examples of foods high in monounsaturated fats include plant-based liquid oils such as:
- olive oil,
- canola oil,
- peanut oil,
- safflower oil and
- sesame oil.
Other sources include avocados, peanut butter, and many nuts and seeds.
Are monounsaturated fats lower in calories?
Monounsaturated fats - like all fats - contain nine calories per gram.
For good health, the majority of the fats that you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Eat foods containing monounsaturated fats and/or polyunsaturated fats instead of foods that contain saturated fats and/or trans fats.
Last reviewed 2015.
Article copyright © 2017 American Heart Association.