Is Monounsaturated Fat Good for You?
Often times, in the quest to purge fat from the body, people decide that the solution is to purge all fat from their diet. However, they don’t distinguish between the sources of fat. They treat the fat in Twinkies the same way that they treat nitrate free bacon or whole butter.
Unfortunately, this can be devastating to the body. While we could spend a whole afternoon just talking about why fat is good for you and why it should be a part of your diet, today we’re just going to discuss monounsaturated fats.
In order to understand if these fats are good or bad for you, we first need to know what they are:
Monounsaturated fats are single carbon bonded triacylglycerols. They have been the subject of numerous health movement focuses from the Flat Belly Diet to the Avocado Diet. In fact, right now, they’re quite in vogue.
These fats help your body lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. They have also been found to help reduce and eliminate depression as well as ADHD, allowing you to focus more clearly.
In a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they discovered that boys who were head a diet high in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats had drastically reduced symptoms for ADHD and even maintained the progress. These fats are often referred to as MUFAs. They have also been found to help reduce belly fat in particular as well as the pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
Consuming Monounsaturated Fats
One of the most popular sources of monounsaturated fats is olive oil. Dr. Mercola warns that most people presume that they can just use olive oil as a substitute for frying oil, but that is not the case. Despite its numerous health benefits, monounsaturated fats like olive oil cannot be heated without increasing the risk of rancidity substantially and destroying the healthy benefits that cold raw olive oil offers.
In general, Dr. Mercola advises against heating or cooking many monounsaturated fats because it generally destroys the benefits. Avocadoes, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, and olive oil are some of the best choices for monounsaturated fats. Just make sure that you read the packages. Nuts are often packaged with sugar, salt, and other preservatives. You want them to be fresh and raw without the added seasonings. If you find that you don’t like the flavor of the raw nuts, you can prepare your own seasoning with fresh herbs and spices. But otherwise, you run the risk that there will be harmful additives like MSG.
A very broad exception needs to be made. Animal products like chicken and beef are high sources of monounsaturated fats. They should generally be cooked sufficiently to avoid bacteria. Nuts and olive oil, however, do not have such risks.
Watching for Risks
As Dr. Mercola points out throughout his work, monounsaturated fats are quite healthy for your body. In fact, you can’t function without them. In “Dutch Get It Right and Recognize Saturated Fat is Not a Problem,” Dr. Mercola addresses the different type of fats and how monounsaturated fats provide the body with the energy to regulate the control functions of the cells, liver, immune system, heart, lungs, hormones, genes, and more.
The problem is that just because you see something advertised as a healthy source of monounsaturated fats does not mean that it is necessarily good for you. Some healthy foods like coconut oil are excellent sources of monounsaturated fats as well as polyunsaturated fats. Some supposedly healthy foods like “weight loss oils” combine monounsaturated fats with trans fats, hydrogenated vegetable oils that react badly within the body and increase health risks. When making a decision, you must make sure that you read the label if it is prepackaged. If you see trans fat, then you need to take a pass.
Speaking generally, you should always regard prepackaged foods suspiciously. You don’t have any idea what all is put in those foods, and sometimes it isn’t even food substances. Often times, people want to believe that they can trust the package if it says that it’s a health food. However, health foods can sometimes be among the worst things you eat. Chances are good that you’re even eating some supposedly healthy foods that may actually be ruining your health.
So try to purchase raw monounsaturated fats and prepare them on your own. You will reap much greater health benefits in the long run. The added benefit is that these items are generally cheaper when purchased as ingredients rather than in finished products.
“Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats in Reducing Symptoms of ADHD,”
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000).
Dr. Mercola, “The Forbidden Food You Should Never Stop Eating,” Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/08/29/enjoy-saturated-fats-theyre-good-for-you.aspx (2011).
Dr. Mercola, “Dutch Get It Right and Recognize Saturated Fat is Not a Problem,” Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/02/dutch-recognize-saturated-fat-not-a-problem.aspx (2012).