Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

MUFAs: Why should my diet include these fats?

What are MUFAs, and should I include them in my diet?

Updated: 05-05-2012

Answer

MUFAs are monounsaturated fatty acids. MUFAs are considered a healthy type of fat. If your diet includes unsaturated fats such as MUFAs (and polyunsaturated fats) instead of saturated fats and trans fats, you may gain certain health benefits.

Consuming monounsaturated fatty acids may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving risk factors. For instance, MUFAs may lower your total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels but maintain or increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. MUFAs may also help normalize blood clotting. And some research shows that MUFAs may also benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

MUFAs are a central part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. But even if you don't follow a Mediterranean-style diet, you can include more of these MUFA-rich foods in your diet:

  • Avocados
  • Canola oil
  • Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pecans and macadamias
  • Nut butters
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Peanut oil

Just don't go overboard. All fats, including MUFAs, are high in calories, so use MUFAs only in moderation. Consume MUFA-rich foods instead of other fatty foods, not in addition to them. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that fat make up no more than 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories.