Monounsaturated Fats Foods – Benefits and Rich Sources

An increasing number of people in the United States are becoming overweight and obese – which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Because unsaturated fat is associated with lower risk than saturated fat, there is some benefit to be gained by looking for foods with monounsaturated fat instead of saturated.

Benefits of Monounsaturated Fat

Fatty acids are long-chained molecules with methyl and carbolic acid groups on either end. A fatty acid chain with only single bonds between carbon atoms is a “saturated” fat. If the chain has one double bond between two carbon atoms, the molecule is designated as “monounsaturated” fat. A chain with more than one double bond is a “polyunsaturated” fatty acid.

Foods containing unsaturated fatty acids are found to reduce the bad type of cholesterol, known as low density lipoprotein (LDL), in the blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the presence of plaque in the arteries, which increases the risk of heart attack, hypertension and stroke.

Unsaturated fats may also increase the levels of good cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), in the blood. HDL cholesterol functions exactly opposite to the harmful LDL.

Consumption of unsaturated fat by children has been demonstrated to contribute to the maintenance of healthy body weight. Childhood weight maintenance is a growing priority because of the epidemic of obesity among today’s children.

Some Rich Sources of Monounsaturated Fat

  • Nuts
  • Whole milk products
  • Red meat
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Olive oil (75 percent)
  • Tea seed oil (80 percent)
  • Canola oil (58 percent)
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain wheat
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cereal
  • Popcorn
  • Grapeseed oil

Always consult your doctor before beginning a new diet or exercise regimen.


USDA; National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Release 24;
Fung, T. T., et al.; Mediterranean Diet and Incidence of and Mortality from Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Women; Circulation; 2009;
Appel, L. J., M.D., MPH, et al.; Effects of Protein, Monounsaturated Fat, and Carbohydrate Intake on Blood Pressure and Serum Lipids; The Journal of the American Medical Association; 2005;

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