What are monounsaturated fats?
Monounsaturated fats are a type of fat that is considered to be healthy for the body. They are a type of unsaturated fat that contains one double bond in their fatty acid chain, which gives them their name. They are commonly found in foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
How do monounsaturated fats impact my health?
Monounsaturated fats have been shown to have a number of positive effects on the body. One of the most well-known benefits is their ability to help lower cholesterol levels. This is because they can reduce the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is the "bad" type of cholesterol that leads to heart disease.
In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, these fats can also help to reduce inflammation in the body. Keeping inflammation at bay is important because it’s linked to a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. By reducing inflammation, monounsaturated fats can help to prevent these diseases from developing.
Monounsaturated fats may also have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. They can help to improve insulin sensitivity, which means that the body is better able to use insulin to control blood sugar levels. This can be particularly beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes, as it can help to improve their ability to manage their blood sugar levels. This is unlike the effects of saturated fats. For example, in a 2017 study comparing the health effects of high saturated fat and low saturated fat diets, researchers discovered that insulin sensitivity was negatively affected when participants were on the high saturated fat diet.
Another benefit of monounsaturated fats is their ability to help with weight management. They can help to increase feelings of fullness and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, which can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. In addition, monounsaturated fats are less likely to be stored as body fat than other types of fat, which means that they are less likely to contribute to weight gain.
How can I add monounsaturated fats to my diet?
So where can you find monounsaturated fats? Some of the best sources include:
- Olive oil: This is one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fats. It's great for cooking or can be used as a salad dressing.
- Avocado: This fruit is also packed with fiber and other nutrients. It's delicious in salads, sandwiches, and smoothies.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds are all good sources. They make a great snack or can be added to salads, oatmeal, or yogurt for an extra boost of healthy fats.
- Peanut butter: This popular spread is also a good source protein and fiber. Just make sure to choose a natural brand that doesn't contain added sugars or oils.
Overall, incorporating more monounsaturated fats into your diet can have a number of positive effects on your health. By choosing healthy sources of monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds, you can improve your cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and support your overall health and wellbeing.
How can I learn more or get access to healthy foods?
The Wellness League Search Tool helps you find free and low cost programs in your community to learn more about healthy eating or find a food pantry. On the search page, simply enter your zip code and the resource you’re looking to find like “nutrition education” or “food pantry”.