The overconsumption of fat in the average western diet has been linked to various chronic diseases. However, since the 1960’s there has been growing evidence 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, are an excellent source of energy, support brain health, and are vital in helping the body to build cell membranes.
Unsaturated fats, one of which is monounsaturated, are 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 is the complicated part 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 1960’s 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 when combined with exercise. Studies have shown that a higher intake of monounsaturated fats compared to saturated fats yielded up to 4.3% higher resting energy expenditure (calories burned 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 joints, causing swelling and pain.
Foods Rich in Monounsaturated Fats
Tips to Increase Your Intake of Monounsaturated Fats
1. Make your own salad dressing using extra virgin olive oil, pink Himalayan salt, and a variety of herbs and spices. You can make some delicious dressings with this oil.
2. Sauté vegetables using olive oil. Not only could this improve your diet, it also tastes amazing.
3. Eat more avocados. Instead of having jelly or some other unhealthy topping on your toast in the morning, smear some 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 (unsweetened and unsulphured) as a healthy replacement. Almonds, cashews, and macadamias are excellent in this mix. Add a few dates to the mix for sweetness. A small handful daily is more than enough to gain the health benefits.
5. Seeds make great snacks. Just make sure there are no 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.