The over consumption of fat in the average western diet has been linked to various chronic diseases. However, since the 1960s there has been a recognition that not all fats are bad for you.
In fact, eating unsaturated fats is highly beneficial to remain healthy.
We need healthy forms of fat in our diets for many reasons. They help absorb certain minerals, is an excellent source of energy, supports brain health, and is vital in helping the body to build cell membranes.
Unsaturated fats, one of which is monounsaturated, is a form of healthy fat that has fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to their carbon chains when compared to saturated and trans fats.
Monounsaturated fats differ from polyunsaturated fats in the amount of carbon-to-carbon double bonds; monounsaturated fats have one, polys have more than one. Easy! That’s the complicated bit out of the way.
Benefits Of Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats are beneficial in a variety of ways. A study of the Mediterranean diet in the 1960s found there were much lower levels of some diseases, including heart disease, even though the diet was high in fat (monounsaturated fat).
A more recent study found a significant benefit of this diet rich in olive oil and other sources of monounsaturated fats in reducing risks of heart disease, even in those who were at a higher risk overall.
Decreased risk of breast cancer
A Swedish research team found there were decreased instances of breast cancer in women who ate a diet rich in monounsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats have been shown to decrease the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and strokes, which can of course be fatal.
Diets high in monounsaturated fat can be beneficial for weight loss, especially combined with exercise. Studies have shown that a higher intake of monounsaturated compared to saturated fats yielded up to 4.3% higher resting energy expenditure (calories burnt independent of activity level).
Researchers believe this could be linked to the mitochondria (parts of the cell that burn calories) being able to burn off more energy as heat.
Helps Improve Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Monounsaturated fats help reduce inflammation in the body. This is especially beneficial to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, as arthritis is caused by inflammation to the joint, causing swelling and pain.
Foods Rich In Monounsaturated Fats
• Olive Oil
• Canola Oil
• Peanut Oil
• Safflower Oil
• Sesame Oil
Here are a few tips to increase your intake monounsaturated fats:
1. Make your own salad dressing using extra virgin olive oil. The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil. You can make some delicious dressings as a result.
2. Sauté vegetables using olive oil. Not only can this improve your diet, it also tastes amazing.
3. Eat more avocadoes. Instead of having something unhealthy on your toast in the morning, why not smear avocado on your bread instead. A healthy breakfast indeed!
4. Improve your snacking. Forget reaching for the chocolate when you are hungry between meals, prepare some mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruit as a healthy replacement. Almonds, cashews, and macadamias are excellent in this mix. Sweeten it up with some raisins, cranberries, or banana chips. Nuts are high in calories so moderation is key, a small handful daily is more than enough to gain the benefits and moderate caloric intake.
5. Seeds make great snacks, just be sure to eat them in dry roasted form without added flavors, or sugars.
As you can see, small changes in your diet can be beneficial to your health. Having a healthy heart is obviously vital, and healthy fats can support you in this quest.