Is Monounsaturated Fat Healthy?

Reviewed on 9/15/2021
is monounsaturated fat healthy
Monounsaturated fats are a healthy type of fat that can help lower your risk of heart disease. Learn why monounsaturated fats are good for you

Monounsaturated fats are a healthy type of fat. Like polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats increase good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) levels without increasing bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) levels. This can help lower your risk of heart disease.

Why are monounsaturated fats good for you?

Your body needs some amount of fat in order to function properly. Monounsaturated fats are a healthier choice than saturated fats because they help:

Unlike saturated fats, which are always solid at room temperature, monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and only begin to harden when chilled.

What are good sources of monounsaturated fats?

Most foods contain a variety of different fats, including both saturated and unsaturated fats. What makes a food healthy is the higher proportion of unsaturated fats than others.

Foods that are high in monounsaturated fats include:

  • Oils
    • Olive
    • Canola
    • Peanut
    • Sesame
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts
    • Almonds
    • Peanuts
    • Cashews
    • Hazelnuts
    • Pecans
  • Peanut butter

If you’re unsure about the fat content in certain foods, especially packaged items, read the nutrition labels. If the percentage or proportion of monounsaturated fats is not mentioned on the label of a food product, look for the proportion of saturated and trans fat. Add this up and subtract from the total fat content of the food product. The remainder is the proportion of monounsaturated fat.

How much monounsaturated fat should you have?

Since fat is essential for vital functions of the body, you shouldn’t completely eliminate it from your diet. Instead, opt for foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and avoid foods with a high amount of saturated and trans fats.

  • You should not get more than 10% of your total daily calories from saturated fat and trans fats. 
  • If your daily intake is 2,000 calories, your fat intake should be anywhere between 140-200 calories or 16-22 grams a day.
  • Make sure that your total fat consumption, including unsaturated fats, for the day does not surpass 25-30% of your daily calorie intake.

How to make healthier food choices

While eating healthier fats is good for you, eating too much of any kind of fat can cause weight gain. So be cautious about your food choices. Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Use oil instead of butter for frying or cooking.
  • Eat fatty fish rich in omega-3s fatty acids instead of meat 2 times a week.
  • Buy poultry without skin and fat.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of packaged foods.

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References
Medline Plus. Facts About Monounsaturated Fats. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000785.htm

Harvard Health Publishing. The Truth About Fats: The Good, the Bad, and the In-Between. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

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