Published on Jan 31, 2023 - 4 min read
MUFA is one of the healthy fats that should be included in the diet. Glance through the article below to take an insight into them.
Among the dietary fats, unsaturated fats are considered healthy. Saturated fats and transfat render deleterious effects on health. Unsaturated fats have a minimum of one double bond in their carbon chain. MUFA, monounsaturated fatty acids, is one of the two unsaturated fats that contain a single, double bond in the fatty acid carbon chain. These fats are liquid at room temperature but harden when exposed to lower temperatures. Like all other fats, MUFA carries nine calories per gram.
Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids provide notable benefits to health, as claimed by several scientific studies. That is why they are recommended to be an essential part of one’s diet.
MUFA has been found to have beneficial effects, especially on cholesterol levels in the body. They decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol levels and increase the body's high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol levels. They also reduce triglyceride levels in the blood. Hence, consumption of an appropriate amount of MUFA leads to an overall improvement in the general profile of the blood lipids of an individual. Additionally, scientific evidence has proved that MUFA can aid in the prevention of LDL cholesterol particle oxidation. Oxidized LDL causes the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
Overall, MUFA lowers the chances of heart disease and stroke. They are also enriched with nutrients that assist in developing and maintaining various body cells. Edible oils packed with monounsaturated fats further provide vitamin E to the diet, an important antioxidant and vitamin.
Although limited evidence is available, a MUFA-rich diet significantly decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure in non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM) patients. In addition, there have been mixed findings that suggest the MUFA profits on cardiovascular disease risk factors.
MUFA is specifically beneficial for type-2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome patients. In such individuals, insulin resistance can be decreased, and blood vessel function can be enhanced by lowering the amount of PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) in the diet and substituting them with an adequate quantity of MUFA.
In a few pieces of research, moving from PUFA to MUFA has also been found to have positive outcomes on weight loss and belly fat reduction.However, due to circumstantial evidence and limited randomized clinical trials, scientists have not determined the quantity of MUFA recommended in a person’s diet.
Usually, different foods possess varying proportions of different types of fats. However, certain foods are rich in monounsaturated fats, like plant-based liquid oils.
They are as follows:
Some other MUFA-rich sources are avocados, peanut butter, almond butter, red meat, nuts, and seeds.
Lately, MUFA has gained momentum due to the success of the Mediterranean diet. MUFA is included in the Mediterranean diet as olive oil, which makes up its essential component and primary fat source. The Mediterranean diet is also loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and moderate quantities of poultry, fish, cheese, and red wine.
As per various clinical studies, the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces mortality, especially due to cardiovascular disease and cancer, like colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. The incidences of myocardial infarction and stroke also get reduced with its consumption. It is also associated with decreased Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease chances.
Due to the high intake of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet, many dietary experts have denoted its benefits and success to an increased feeding of MUFA.
Olive oil is preferred the most to incorporate MUFA into the daily diet. It is mostly used as a cooking oil or can be included as a dressing ingredient, like in salads. Olive oil is generally found in a liquid state to be used as an alternative for butter, sauces, or gravies.
Besides olive oil, other MUFA-containing foods should also be consumed. However, the focus should be laid on replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet. The following tips can be adopted to lower the intake of unhealthy fats:
Consume MUFA-rich oil in place of butter. For instance, olive oil can be used for sauteing, and canola oil for baking, replacing butter.
Include seafood twice or thrice a week that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, etc., substituting red meat.
Opt for lean meat and skinless poultry; remove fat and skin and eliminate them.
Restrict the intake of processed or packaged foods loaded with saturated fat. Go for whole fruits and vegetables when feeling hungry.
Avoid practicing extremes. Complete elimination of fat from the diet is not advised. However, care should be taken to choose the right amount and the healthy fat type, as fat is an essential part of a balanced diet. So, foods rich in unsaturated fat should be chosen instead of saturated fat.
Some additional suggestions that can be followed are:
Consume nuts and seeds as alternatives to packaged foods, like cookies, for a snack. Yet, only small portions should be eaten, as they are calorie-rich.
Replace dressings and mayonnaise with avocado in salads and sandwiches.
Instead of red or processed meat, choose plant-based sources of MUFA.
Monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly those obtained from plants, render several gains to an individual's health and prevent many life-threatening cum lifestyle diseases. So, they should be consumed undoubtedly. Proper knowledge about the source type and the adequate amount should also be considered to avoid adverse effects. A consultation with a nutritionist or dietician proves beneficial for this.
Last reviewed at:
31 Jan 2023 - 4 min read
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