| | |

What’s The Difference Between Monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated Fats?

Monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated Fats: What You Need to Know

The way consumers obtain nutrition information has changed these days. The use of the internet and social media has grown rapidly, and these are now among the leading sources of information for health and wellness. Due to the access of more information than ever, including conflicting information of uncertain and variable quality, many consumers are more confused than ever.

Nutrition scientists are trusted content experts. Consequently, it is important that they communicate research findings to authoritative bodies and the general public in order for consumers to make sound, evidence-based dietary decisions.

Monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated Fats: Know The Facts

The difference between monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats is a highly debated topic among nutritionists, with many americans not quite sure what the differences are.

Comparison studies and reviews examined the action of polyunsaturated fats versus monounsaturated fats on plasma lipid modulation. Evidence supports the notion that monounsaturated fats have slightly less total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol lowering effects to those of polyunsaturated fats.

Whereas polyunsaturated fats may reduce serum triglycerides, monounsaturated fats have more favorable effects on HDL cholesterol concentrations.

The ability to effectively target an increase in plasma HDL cholesterol is critical in patients with metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

When polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats were compared for replacement of dietary saturated fat in healthy adults, those consuming monounsaturated fats demonstrated a preservation of HDL cholesterol levels to a greater extent with only a 4% decrease in HDL cholesterol levels compared to those consuming polyunsaturated fats, which decreased HDL cholesterol levels by 14%.

Thus, due to the preservation of HDL cholesterol with monounsaturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats rich diets, effects on total cholestrol and HDL cholesterol ratio where comparable when either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats replaced dietary saturated fats.

What are Monounsaturated Fats?

They contain fatty acids that has one double bond in a long hydrocarbon chain with carboxyl group (R-COOH).

Like saturated fats, monosaturated fats consist of cis-monounsaturated fatty acids and are readily synthesized by the liver in response to carbohydrate consumption. They are not required in the diet; thus no recommended dietary allowance has been set. In addition, there is little evidence to set a tolerable upper intake level.

The major monounsaturated fatty acids in western diets is oleic acid which is abundant in plant sources including:

  • Olive
  • Peanut
  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pumpkin seeds

Dietary guidelines for monounsaturated fats consumption are based on the subtraction of recommended intakes of saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat from total fat rather than evidence for specific optimal intakes of monounsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated Fats Benefits

Eating foods with monounsaturated fats has the following benefits:

  • Lowers LDLs levels and reduces the risks of heart problems
  • Burns fats and store less fat
  • Gets rid of saturated fats after eating

What are Polyunsaturated Fats?

Polyunsaturated fats are fatty acids
that contains two or more double bonds in the carboxyl group (R-COOH). Cis-polyunsaturated fatty acids in include essential fatty acids and have beneficial roles in human health.

About 90% of all polyunsaturated fatty acids in a diet is linoleic acid, which is found in:

  • Sunflower
  • Corn
  • Soybean
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Fish

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are a class of compounds that have a variety of important functions in biological systems. Studies have shown that longer-chain fatty acids, in particular eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), arachidonic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have important roles as biosynthetic precursors, cellular membrane components, and in the protection against oxidative stress.

Polyunsaturated Fats Benefits

Consuming a diet with polyunsaturated fats has numerous benefits:

  • Reduces bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of getting heart related diseases.
  • Provides nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.
  • Oils and foods containing polyunsaturated fats also supplies Vitamin E to the body.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are good sources of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for the brain and eyes.


Monounsaturated fats are more healthy than polyunsaturated fats. The differences in nutrition are significant as well, and there are major differences in the dietary guidelines. Monounsaturated fats are from plants and animal sources, they include avocados, olives, and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are also found in fish, meat, and vegetable oils, and they include apricots, tuna, and corn oil.

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are a good replacement for saturated fat diet, they have great health benefits such as reducing body weight and lowering the risks of getting heart diseases.

Even though monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for your diet, consumption should be in small amounts to maintain body weight, too much fats can cause obesity.

I hope this article helped you learn the differences between monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

You can also check out our post on lipids in foods, their types, sources and functions.

Similar Posts