In our quest to be healthy and slim, we’ve lumped all fats into the “bad” category. But some of them, including monounsaturated fats, don’t deserve the condemnation and can actually be good for you.
It’s easy to work monounsaturated fats into your diet, but the trick is to consume them in moderation. After all, monounsaturated fats are still fats!
Monounsaturated Fats Have Benefits
According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats can lower “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL) and raise “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke. They also can:
- Help control blood sugar levels.
- Work to develop and maintain cells.
- Provide energy for your body.
- Add antioxidant vitamin E to your diet.
- Help your body use certain vitamins.
- Lead to healthy hair and skin.
Luckily, foods high in monounsaturated fats are not difficult to work into your diet. In fact, if you’re eating healthier lately, you may have already made changes that up your intake.
Foods high in monounsaturated fats include:
- Plant-based oils, including olive, canola, peanut, safflower and sesame oils. These oils tend to be liquid at room temperature.
- Avocados, which contain about 10 grams of monounsaturated fats each.
- Peanut and other nut butters. Read the label to be sure they don’t have added unhealthy oils.
- Nuts. One ounce of almonds, for example, has about 9 grams of monounsaturated fat.
- Seeds, such as flax, sunflower, pumpkin, chia and sesame.
- Salmon and other fatty fish, including tuna, mackerel and sardines.
Use monounsaturated fats to replace saturated fats, but don’t go overboard. All fats – whether beneficial or not – have nine calories per gram, so they can add up quickly.
Aim for getting 25 percent to 35 percent of your calories from fat every day. For someone who consumes 2,000 calories a day, that works out to be about 55 to 77 of total fat each day.
How do your work monounsaturated oils into your diet? How many grams of fat do you have each day?
Ronda Elsenbrook is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Nutritional Services at Kelsey-Seybold. She’s an essential part of her patients’ medical team providing medical nutrition therapy, counseling and education as needed.