Diet and Nutrition Data Verified

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) - An Overview

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.

What Are Monounsaturated Fatty Acids?

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.

What Are the Health Benefits of MUFA?

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.

Which Foods Contain Monounsaturated Fats?

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:

  • Olive oil.

  • Canola oil.

  • Peanut oil.

  • Safflower oil.

  • Sesame oil.

Some other MUFA-rich sources are avocados, peanut butter, almond butter, red meat, nuts, and seeds.

What Is the Significance of MUFA in the Mediterranean Diet?

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.

How to Include MUFA in the Diet?

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.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
31 Jan 2023  -  4 min read




Related Questions & Answers

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)

Article Overview: This article will cover the details of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). What is PUFA, its sources, benefits, risks, importance, etc? Read below to find out. Read Article

What is PUFA? Fats are one of the essential macronutrients the body needs for its overall health and proper growth and development. PUFA or polyunsaturated fatty acids are a kind of dietetic fats, besides monounsaturated fats, that are beneficial for the person's overall health. Chemically, their mo...  Read Article

Naturopathy Treatment Options for Atherosclerosis

Article Overview: This article will help you understand better ways of living with all the natural therapies such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, diet therapy, and yoga therapy for the silent killer "Atherosclerosis." Read Article

Aishwarya Ilavarasan
Aishwarya Ilavarasan

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats and cholesterol (plaque) in the artery walls, which can restrict blood flow. This plaque can get detached and result in a blood clot, blocking the blood flow to the heart. This article will focus on natural treatment options for atherosclerosis. Nature cure, ot...  Read Article

Lifestyle Changes to Burn Arrogant Abdominal Fat

Article Overview: Are you finding it difficult to reduce that stubborn belly fat of yours? Try these effective and simple lifestyle changes to burn your belly fat faster. Read Article

Ajit Kumar
Ajit Kumar

Belly fat or abdominal fat can be easily reduced with simple lifestyle modifications. Belly fat is linked to systemic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, etc. A few reasons for the accumulation of belly fat include: Stress. Sedentary lifestyle. Lack of exercise. Poor diet and nutr...  Read Article

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Monounsaturated Fatty Acids or Mufa Benefits?

Ask an expert Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: Wellness medicine is not aimed to replace the services of your treating physician or allopathy medicines. Our site's information is to those who are willing to take responsibility for their health, being fully aware that the content published herein would not qualify as a prescription or specific medical advice. If users use the information and stop prescribed medication without their physician's consent, they bear full responsibility for their actions, and iCliniq-Wellness bears no responsibility for the same. Information on Wellness medicine should not be misinterpreted as a cure for any illness, as our body is complex and everyone reacts differently.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.