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8 Best Heart Healthy Foods That are High in Monounsaturated Fats

8 Foods That are High in Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats has shown to reduce the risks of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and increase a person’s ability to lose weight. However, not all monounsaturated fats are the same. Some have more health benefits than others.

Studies have shown that dietary monounsaturated fats have hypotensive effects when compared to diets rich in carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids, significantly reporting consistent reductions in blood pressure when monounsaturated fats are compared to diets rich in saturated fats.

In this post, we are looking at foods that are high in monounsaturated fats, the sources and health benefits, before you think of choose the best one for your diet.

What are Monounsaturated Fats?

Monounsaturated fats are fatty acid chains containing one double bond. MUFAs have higher melting points than PUFAs, which contain two or more double bonds.

Both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, whereas monounsaturated fats exist as semi-solids when refrigerated.

On the contrary, saturated fats contain no double bonds and are solid at room temperature. Structurally, the palmitoleic acid and oleic acid are both cis isomers of monounsaturated fatty acid.

Sources of monounsaturated fats:

  • Avocado
  • Canola oil
  • Almond seeds
  • Olive fruit
  • Safflower oil
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Sesame oil

1. Avocado

Avocado is a low sugar fruit with high contents of protein, fibre and vitamins A, B, C and E. It is an excellent source of potassium and phosphorus. There are no toxic chemicals and trans fats. It contains 82% MUFAs which effectively reduces the levels of low density lipoproteins in the blood helping in the prevention of coronary heart diseases.

2. Canola Oil

Canola oil contains only 7% saturated fatty acids, that is about half the level present in corn oil, olive oil and soybean oil and about one-quarter the level present in cotton seed oil. The most abundant fatty acid in nature is the oleic acid. It is present in virtually all fats and oils and in some, such as olive oil and canola oil, it is the major fatty acid.

Oleic acid makes up 61% of the total fatty acids in canola oil. Among the common vegetable oils, canola oil is second only to olive oil in oleic acid content. Studies over the past 15 years have shown that dietary oleic acid is equally as effective in lowering plasma cholesterol level as dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids.

3. Almond Seeds

Almond contain proteins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Almond seeds are a useful food remedy for anemia. They are also rich source of vitamin E, dietary fiber, B-vitamins, essential minerals, monounsaturated fats and phytosterols which have cholesterol lowering properties.

They are useful in treating constipation and various skin diseases like eczema, pimples. Almond seeds are also used in treating gastroenteritis, kidney pains, diabetes, head lice, facial neuralgia and gastric ulcers.

4. Olive Fruit

Olive fruit is very helpful in the prevention of various diseases, it is being used as a key ingredient in the dietary habit of mediterranean countries. It is rich in protein, cellulose, sugar, minerals, phenolic compounds, tocopherols, vitamin A, D, E and K. Olive has 15-35% oil in it’s flesh. Fat is mostly found in the form of lipoprotein, phospholipid and galactolipid.

It also contains oleic acid that protects against colon, breast and skin cancer. Olives are a good source of fibre. It’s fibrous materials are useful for the intestines, and also reduces constipation. The FDA approved a qualified health claim for olive oil that states:

Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.

5. Safflower Oil

Safflower is a valuable oilseed crop that is cultivated in Asia, North America and South America. It contains high proportion of PUFAs such as linoleic acid and tocopherol that are used for medicinal as well as dietetic purposes.

The major unsaturated fatty acids are linoleic and oleic acid comprising 78% and 10% of total fatty acids respectively. While, saturated fatty acids are present in lower proportion ranging from 9.7% to 10.8% of total fatty acids.

Safflower oil has shown many beneficial health effect in various recent studies. The presence of conjugated linoleic acid in safflower oil has shown to decrease body weight and adipose tissues. India, USA and Japan have been reported to use safflower oil in controlling blood parameters such as cholesterol and high density lipoprotein levels.

6. Peanuts

Peanuts are packed full of beneficial nutrition to provide energy. They are full of healthy fats, protein, and contain the healthiest form of carbohydrates, fiber.

At least half of the fat in peanuts is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and over 30% is polyunsaturated fat, making them very low in saturated fat, and they contain significant amount of protein and fiber even in small doses.

There is a large amount of consistent evidence indicating peanuts reduce the risk of heart disease. They are packed full of the same heart-healthy fats as olive oil, and contain essential nutrients, which have been shown to be heart protective.

The more frequently you eat peanuts, the lower you risk of heart disease, just a handful a day can decrease the risk of heart disease by over 50%.

Research also shows peanuts play a role in reducing risk factors associated with heart disease by improving lipid profiles and decreasing blood pressure. Due to the strength of evidence of peanuts and heart-health, the FDA released a qualified health claim that states:

Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

7. Pecans

Pecans are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which is also found in olives and olive oil, and is recommended for reducing the risk of heart disease.

A recent study found that 8.5% of heart-related deaths in the united states were as a result of low nut consumption. Pecans are a good food source of other nutrients that contribute to heart health and provide other health benefits.

These include vegetable protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds. MUFAs and PUFAs found in pecan nuts have proven to lower LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides when replacing saturated fat in the diet, all of which produce cardio-protective qualities.

8. Sesame Seeds/Oil

Sesame seeds contain sesamol, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, known to be useful in battling heart disease and atherosclerosis.

It has good percentage of unsaturated fatty acids, 14% saturated, 39% MUFAs, and 46% PUFAs. Sesame oil contains significantly more polyunsaturated fats, which include omega-3 fatty acids.

These beneficial fats help protect your heart from damage, regulate your blood pressure and might reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

I hope this article helped you know about heart-healthy foods that are high in monounsaturated fats.

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