It’s very easy to get lost in the cloud of nutritional data that encompasses us. We have been advised by the health experts to reduce the amount of fats we consume as they contain more calories than carbohydrates and proteins. Although this is true, there are some types of fats that can be extremely beneficial to our health. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) are one of those types of fat. If you’re curious about what it is and its many health benefits are, read on.
What Are Monounsaturated Fatty Acids?
All dietary fats are composed of of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fatty acids, in different proportions. Unsaturated fatty acids are characterized by the presence of double bonds in their chemical structure. MUFAs are differentiated from other unsaturated fatty acids as they have only one double bond. Foods that are rich in unsaturated fats tend to remain in liquid form when at room temperature and begin to solidify when chilled whereas foods rich in saturated fats tend to exist is solid form at room temperature.
How Are They Different From Other Types Of Fats?
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are are healthier than saturated or trans fats. Although all types of fats contain nine calories per gram, studies have found that consumption on mono and polyunsaturated fats have a positive effect on the body while saturated and trans fats negatively affect it. It is therefore recommended to incorporate unsaturated fats into an individual’s diet while limiting saturated and trans fats.
How Much Fat Should You Consume
Ensure that the you consume healthy dietary fats in moderation as they are also rich in calories. Consuming a high fat diet without keeping a track of your calorie intake could lead to obesity and heart disease. The United States Department Of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines recommends that at least 25% – 30% of an adult’s daily calorie intake should come from fats. Ensure that consumption of unsaturated fats is less that 10%.
Health Benefits Of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Help With Weight Loss
Several studies have found that people who ingest monounsaturated fats were seen to lose more weight than those consuming saturated or trans fats of the same amount. Studies have also found that a high-monounsaturated fat diet results in more weight loss than a high-carbohydrate diet. Just make sure that you don’t consume more calories than you’re burning.
Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Studies have found that monounsaturated fats may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar as it helps improve insulin sensitivity. People who have been following high-MUFA diets for an extended period have observed reduced insulin resistance.
They Are Good For Your Heart
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two major risk factors that contribute to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, “Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.” Several studies have found that consuming monounsaturated fats also increases “good” HDL cholesterol. There exists some limited evidence that suggest that MUFAs may help lower blood pressure as well.
Help Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
A study found that women who had the largest amount of oleic acid in their fat tissue were the least affected by breast cancer. Oleic acid is a type of monounsaturated fatty acid which occurs naturally in animal and vegetable fats and oils. Some studies have also found that people who consume olive oil (a rich source of oleic acid) had lower breast cancer rates than those who didn’t. It is essential to note that there may be other factors contributing to this effect and that further research is necessary.
Foods Rich In MUFAs
Most foods are composed of of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fatty acids, in different proportions. Some foods have a higher content of monounsaturated fats than others. These foods include nuts, avocados, canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and butter, sesame oil.