Remember 6th grade science class, when we first came across the term, ‘balanced diet’? It simply meant that every meal we consumed needed to consume all the food groups, those were, proteins, carbs, vitamins, minerals and fats. Off late however, it seems like fats have gotten a bad rep of sorts. Nutritionists and food scientists overwhelmingly agree that ‘fats’ as they are called ought to be part of our meals in a moderate fashion, after all, fats are what the body ought to be burning in order to generate energy. However over-consumption of fats are a problem!
Fats are of two types, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats (MUFA) are considered to be essential to the vital processes of the body and have many health benefits, ergo they are good for you. So let’s first understand what MUFA or monounsaturated fats are, what are they contained in, and why are they so good for you, and most importantly why you ought to be eating them.
What are monounsaturated fats (MUFA)?
MUFA or monounsaturated fats are termed ‘good’ fats and are liquid at room temperature, but turn solid when frozen.
What are the best sources of MUFA?
The best sources of MUFA include cold pressed, extra virgin olive and coconut oil, which are rich in oleic and lauric acid respectively. Avocados, nuts, fatty fish like salmon, cod and mackerel are also excellent sources of MUFA. Omega-3 fatty acids are also a vital component of MUFA and make them essential for the maintenance of good health.
Why are MUFAs so important?
MUFAs are important as they play an important role in the upkeep and maintenance of your health. They contain several elements like Omega 3, Lauric Acid and Oleic Acid which are elixirs of good health from different perspectives. The health benefits of MUFA include:
- Lowering of LDL (low density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol, therefore decreasing the chance of artery blocking plaque, therefore decreasing stroke and heart attack risk
- MUFA also decreases the chance of breast cancer, as per research conducted by the Gothenburg university, who analysed the diet of Swedish women that contained healthy fats vis-a-vis that which didn’t contain the same
- MUFA are also responsible for the reduction of belly fat, which as most nutritionists agree are amongst the most difficult to get rid of
- Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have reported a lesser incidence of pain from their affliction and in some cases reversal of their condition, when consuming a diet that is higher in MUFA than polyunsaturated or trans-fats
What are some of the foods that you can add to your eating pattern to increase your MUFA intake?
MUFA is contained in some superfoods and oils. The incredible upside to this is that MUFA rich foods are also super yum, the high taste quotient therefore makes their adoption into daily eating patterns much easy. Here are some of the foods that are high in MUFAs and how you can incorporate them, into your daily eating patterns
- Olive oil contains oleic acid that is linked with good heart health and maintenance of the liver, bowels and central nervous system. It can be used to saute food, in stir fries and in light oil or shallow frying of meals. Extra virgin olive oil can be combined with low sodium salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar in order to make vinaigrettes to dress salads
- Cashews, almonds and pistachios make great snacks, for in-between meals that are heart healthy and are great for reducing hunger as well
- Raw almond butter makes an excellent dip for veggies, like celery, carrots and broccoli
- Avocados are excellent as a bread spread, or as a traditional dip called guacamole, that mixes it with lemon, chillies and other condiments for a piquant part serving for tortilla chips
- Coconut oil when used to cook makes an excellent and tasty cooking fat. Lauric acid contained in it is excellent for the skin, liver and the overall reduction of low density lipoprotein of LDL, the bad cholesterol
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, cod and mackerel are key in helping the level of triglycerides (a harmful fat) that turn into plaque and weaken the heart muscles and narrow the blood vessels with blockages
Fats aren’t all bad, you just need to know what kind of fat you are consuming and their potential benefits and risks. Monounsaturated fats are vital because of their myriad health benefits. Including them into your diet is only a matter of a few smart and healthy substitutions. For this and more tips on living healthy, eating right and tweaks on changing your lifestyle, do follow me on Facebook and if you have any queries regarding any of our services, feel free to leave me a comment here. In the interim, live wise, live well, live happy.