What Are Monounsaturated Fats?

By: Mel Joelle

Monounsaturated fats are fatty acids in biochemistry and nutrition. These acids have a single double bond in the fatty acid chain, and all of the rest of the atoms in the chain are single-bonded. Chemically, monounsaturated fats are fats that have one double-bonded carbon. Most unsaturated fats come from plant sources, like the oil palm, and monounsaturated fats are present in a variety of everyday foods. These fats are normally liquid at room temperature and can harden to a semi-solid or solid when cooled. Monounsaturated fats have a higher melting point than polyunsaturated fats.

Long-chained molecules that have a methyl group at one end are called fatty acids. These are also characterized by having a carboxylic acid group at the other end. Your body makes monounsaturated fatty acids from saturated fatty acids and can use them in numerous ways.

Examples of monounsaturated fats are palm oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil. These examples contain oleic acid, the most common found fatty acid in our foods. Additional sources include avocados, peanut butter, tea seed oil, grapeseed oil, olives, safflower oil, oatmeal, cereal, popcorn, corn oil, whole grain wheat, ground nut oil, and many different nuts and seeds.

A good number of people might think that all fat is bad, but monounsaturated might protect against heart disease. In moderation, monounsaturated fats can be beneficial to your health. They can help reduce bad cholesterol in your blood and help to lower your risk of stroke and heart diseases. Monounsaturated fats also help to provide nutrients to your body’s cells and are normally high in vitamin E. It is recommended to consume more monounsaturated fats than saturated or trans fats.

Some sources even claim that monounsaturated fats provide more benefits than just lowering bad cholesterol. Some additional health benefits are that it decreases the risk of breast cancer, thwarts belly fat, improves insulin sensitivity, maintains gastrointestinal health, has anti-inflammatory benefits, and may even help with weight loss. In studies, when monosaturated fats are traded for saturated fat in the diet, they have been shown to improve cholesterol levels. They are also known to reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, which is also known as the bad carrier for cholesterol. They enhance HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, also known as the good carrier for cholesterol.

Monounsaturated fats are known not to go rancid easily, which makes them perfect for storage and cooking use. They are also not required to be included on a nutrition label, however many products still include them to show what quantities of fat are monounsaturated. Trans fats have become a big part of the news as it has been shown that they do harm to the body. It is recommended to cease consumption of trans-fat foods and instead increase consumption of foods that contain monounsaturated fats.

Though monounsaturated fats have numerous health benefits, it is also important to remember that they still contain the same amount of calories as other fats, and in excess can still lead to weight gain.

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