MUFAs (pronounced moo-fah!) are Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: plant-based fats found in foods that are liquid at room temperature and turn solid when chilled.
Simply put: MUFAs are a healthy type of fat. They target stubborn belly fat by replacing the salty, fatty snacks in your diet and helping you feel full much longer. Simply put: not all fats are created equal, and MUFAs are a type of fat that is not only healthy but can help you lose weight!
Per the government’s dietary guidelines, it’s recommended that 30% of the calories you consume daily are fats, and saturated fats make up 10% or less of your total fats consumption.
Additionally, according to The American Heart Association, “the majority of the fats that you eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Eat foods containing monounsaturated fats and/or polyunsaturated fats instead of foods that contain saturated fats and/or trans fats.”
Benefits of MUFAs
MUFAs are known to decrease your cholesterol level, increase your heart health, and contribute to weight loss. They also contain Vitamin E, vitamins, and antioxidants that many Americans need much more of!
According to the Mayo Clinic, replacing unhealthy fats, like trans and saturated, with healthier fats, like MUFAs, will yield health benefits.
Heart Healthy MUFAs
MUFAs are proven to have a positive effect on your heart health when you eat them in moderation, and you should aim to replace the saturated fat and trans fats in your diet with MUFAs or PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids).
Mayo Clinic Registered Dietitian Katherine Zeratsky says in an article that MUFAs make up a large portion of the main foods in the Mediterranean diet, one known to be very heart-healthy. The Mediterranean diet encourages eating mostly plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. It replaces saturated fats with unsaturated fats (for example, replacing butter with olive oil) and uses herbs and spices in place of salt and other sodium-rich condiments.
This diet reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers cholesterol, and helps clear up your arteries. According to the Mayo Clinic: “The Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts may have a reduced risk of breast cancer.”
MUFA’s Help Reduce Belly Fat
In addition, Prevention Magazine’s Flat Belly Diet program is based upon the idea of increasing your consumption of MUFA’s and has been wildly successful.
When you eat healthy fats, you feel satiated. Healthy fats that fill you up and satisfy you as opposed to processed carbs that leave you feeling deprived or craving more of them. People are often shocked that these foods are good to eat on a daily basis but YES they are and YES we love them, too!
Related: How Eating Fat Can Make You Thin
Types Of Fats
Per the government’s dietary guidelines, 30% of the calories you consume daily should be fats, and saturated fats should make up 10% or less of your total fats consumption, and 20% unsaturated. But what are these? And where do you get them? Keep reading! We’ll break down these fats for you.
PUFAs are a healthy type of fat that is in a liquid state at room temperature and are known to help lower cholesterol. Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are PUFAs. You can find PUFAs in fatty fish, nuts & seeds, corn oil and safflower oil.
MUFAs are plant-based fats found in foods & are a healthy type of fat. They target stubborn belly fat by replacing the salty, fatty snacks in your diet and helping you feel full much longer. You can find them in nuts, nut butter, oils, olives, avocados, dark chocolate, and seeds! These & PUFAs should make up about 20% of your daily diet.
Saturated fats are NOT a healthy type of fat (except for a FEW exceptions, like coconut oil). They can increase your cholesterol & risk for type 2 diabetes. Sat fats are found in certain meats, seafood, dairy products, and oils. No more than 10% of your daily diet should come from saturated fats!
Trans fats are also NOT a healthy type of fat. They are known to raise your total cholesterol and are generally found in processed foods, which are almost never good for you. They’re found in lots of processed and fast foods.
Top Six MUFA Sources For Weight Loss
Now that you know the benefits of MUFAs and the different types of unhealthy fats, it’s time to incorporate MUFAs into your diet.
We LOVE avocados. They go great on toast, in smoothies, in salads, or just plain with a little lemon and sea salt! Check out our slew of recipes including this delicious MUFA superfood.
If you need help figuring out how to work avocados into your diet, check out the GHU Guide to Eating Avocados Every Day! Our absolute favorite is this guacamole–check out the step-by-step video on how to make your own at home!
2. Olive Oil
Using healthy oils instead of oils containing lots of saturated fat is a super-easy way to incorporate more MUFAs into your diet! Olive oil is full of antioxidants and polyphenols and is anti-inflammatory.
Grill, bake, fry, drizzle, or dress any of your meals with this healthier oil. Use it in place of butter or as a salad dressing! When you’re cooking with olive oil, it’s best used for frying and has a flash-point between 375 and 400 degrees.
3. Nuts & Seeds
Need a perfect snack to bring with you on the go? Want a boost of energy in the middle of the day? Nuts & seeds are your new total go-to. They’re SO easy–just throw some in a bag and go! Another benefit of nuts & seeds? They’re packed with protein and great for vegans & vegetarians!
Nut butters are great, and even better when you make them yourself (to avoid all the added preservatives and sugars often found in store-bought brands). Whether you did pecans, peanuts, cashews, or macadamias, you’re just a few steps away from having your favorite nut turn spreadable!
Check out this guide that will walk you through the steps of homemade nut butter! If you’re looking for a delicious way to incorporate nut butters into your daily routine, try a smoothie like this one!
Dark chocolate? For health? We love that! But it’s important to remember: we aren’t talking a dark chocolate Hershey’s kiss. In order to truly reap the MUFA benefits, shoot for dark chocolate that contains 65% or more cacao. Unfortunately, this one needs to be in heavy moderation. Dark chocolate is a very concentrated source of calories.
BUT, as long as you check the label on your chocolate and make sure that it isn’t full of sugar and other additives, we say a piece of dark chocolate a day keeps the doctor away! If you’re looking for an indulgent, healthy treat, try these Dark Chocolate Emerald Truffles
Olives are a great source of Vitamin E, Iron, Calcium, and Copper, all of which are commonly lacking in a Western diet. Because olives are fermented (fresh olives are very bitter!) they also have properties that promote digestive health. They’re rich in antioxidants and help fight sickness!
If you don’t already love olives, all of these benefits should be convincing you otherwise! Incorporate olives into your next happy hour or dinner with this delicious recipe for Olive Tapenade!
Other Foods That Contain MUFAs
Check out this complete list of all MUFAs. Click on each food for a delicious recipe to help you incorporate it into your food routine:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Safflower oil
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Ground flaxseed
- Poppy seeds
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate