What Effect Do Monounsaturated Fats Have on Cardiovascular System?

It is well known that olive oil is a part of many diets helping lose weight. But this source of monounsaturated fats also has a good impact on the cardiovascular system. Read here about what products contain “good” fats too and how useful they are for our heart.

Nowadays, monounsaturated fats are considered to be lean or “good” fats, meaning that they are very good for health. Despite the fact that scientific evidence is quite insignificant, many specialists agree that monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are useful for the general health and especially for healthy heart.

What Are MUFA?

Monounsaturated fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids with one double carbon bond. They have a liquid structure at a room temperature but if the temperature drops, they become thicker. The most well-known type of MUFA is oleic acid (omega-9) that is contained in great amounts in olive oil. Besides, MUFA include palmitoleic, erucic, eicosenic and other twelve less common acids.

It should be noted that there are two types of unsaturated fatty acids: monounsaturated, as we have already mentioned, and polyunsaturated (these fats remains liquid under all conditions). Both of them are significant for the cardiovascular system but it was proven that polyunsaturated fatty acids have a stronger effect on it.

Heart-Healthy Benefits and MUFA

Despite the circumstantial evidence in favor of making monounsaturated fats a part of a heart-healthy diet, their abilities are striking.

As for the advantages, MUFA influence blood lipids in a positive way. Due to them, the level of low-density lipoprotein (or “bad”) cholesterol is decreased and the level of high-density lipoprotein (or “good”) cholesterol is increased.

MUFA are able to reduce the blood triglycerides level. Therefore, the state of blood lipids is improved, which leads to improvement of the overall state of the cardiovascular system.

Besides, these fats prevent “bad” cholesterol particles from being oxidized, which, in turn, may cause the appearance of atheromatous plaques.

Diabetes will not be also ignored. MUFA can’t treat this disease but it can help people suffering from type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome. If polyunsaturated fats are replaced with MUFA in a diet, it decreases insulin resistance and improves the word of blood vessels. Sometimes it can even help lose some weight.

In spite of these facts whether they are circumstantial or not, unfortunately, there is no specific evidence that MUFA prevent the development of ischemic heart disease.

Mediterranean Diet and Monounsaturated Fats

Olive oil that, as we all know, is rich in monounsaturated fats, is a main source of fat and an essential part of Mediterranean diet. There have been many clinical studies, and now this diet is associated with decline in mortality, especially in mortality from heart diseases and different types of cancer (prostate, colon and breast cancer). This diet also seems to prevent heart seizures and heart attacks.

The Mediterranean diet slows down the development of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The diet includes: fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, legumes, natural spices and greens, wholemeal bread, nuts and, of course, olive oil in large amounts. Poultry and cheese are also a part of the diet. According to dieticians, the Mediterranean diet is so healthy mainly due to a high intake of monounsaturated fats.

Sources of MUFA

  • olives;
  • extra virgin oil;
  • avocado and avocado oil;
  • almond;
  • peanut;
  • cashew nut;
  • eggs;
  • red meat;

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Heart-Healthy Diet FAQ

The risk of cardiovascular disease rises among people eating unhealthy food. If you have problems with blood pressure or any of chronic heart diseases, you are to control your daily ration. What products and eating habits are good for your heart?

It is a well-known fact that eating heart-healthy food helps to prevent cardiovascular disease. At the same time, there has been much a great confusion recently as to what products actually belong to this diet. Should one stick to low-fat food or opt for a low-carb ration? Many questions and almost no exact answers.

Key guidelines for a heart-healthy diet

With all confusions, there is a growing consensus on the general rules of heart-healthy eating. They are quite simple to obey:

  1. Control the number of calories per day only necessary to maintain healthy weight and not to gain extra pounds.
  2. The more vegetables and fruits, the better.
  3. Choose whole grain breads and pastas.
  4. The red meat should be limited. Replace it by chicken, fish and legumes to gain a good portion of protein every day.
  5. Avoid using products containing trans fats.
  6. Exclude processed foods, especially processed carbohydrates.

In order to feel better, you should only follow these simple tips, and your confusion will disappear.

What about low-fat and low-carb foods?

Followers of low-carb diets have been fighting proponents of low-fat eating for many years, and the main apple of discord is a right dietary approach. However, if you compare the recent recommendations from both sides, you will find much in common.

At last, low-fat followers have had to admit that specific fats do good for your health. According to official dietary guidelines, the worth of low-fat eating is overrated. And the same is with carbohydrates.

As a result, general recommendations from low-fat and low-carb zealots now resemble each other, although both camps do not want to admit it. In fact, they look a lot like the basic rules of heart-healthy eating, listed above.

The Mediterranean Diet

Most patients with heart problems stick to this diet, as it seems the best compromise between low-carb and low-fat sides. The Mediterranean diet takes the best features and leaves aside the worst features of both viewpoints. It also contains the basic rules of healthy eating.

In addition, according to the recent clinical studies among more than 400000 participants, people who followed it for 5 years had a 20% less risk to die from cardiovascular disease or cancer. Studies have also shown that women and men on this diet have improved blood pressures and blood glucose levels, cholesterol values and reduced a risk of metabolic syndrome, in comparison to people on low-fat or other poor diets.

Learn the following tips for the Mediterranean diet:

  • Replace red meat with fish;
  • Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits;
  • Limit fatty dairy products;
  • Exclude butter, baked goods and foods containing trans fats;
  • Use only olive or canola oil for cooking;
  • Eat a handful of walnuts, pecans or almonds per day;
  • Drink a glass of red wine in the evening (check this tip with your doctor).


Other tips for a heart-healthy life

Make six rules of healthy eating a part of your daily life and you will definitely feel better. In order to increase the quality of life even more, follow these simple recommendations:

  • Opt for products containing omega-3 fatty acids;
  • Eat more nuts, as they reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by 40% if taken 4-5 times a week;
  • Do not drink much alcohol. 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer per day raise HDL and decrease LDL, but heavy drinking brings only damage to your heart;
  • Limit salt in your daily food.

According to medical experts, combining heart-healthy eating with regular exercises helps to maintain reasonable weight and reduce the risk of heart problems. Of course, there are some factors in losing extra pounds that cannot be controlled easily (for example, genetics and psychological features). However, daily or even weekly training will help a lot. Although it takes much dedication and a power of will, it is under your control, so you can use it if you care for your health. In additions, doctors say that it is better to be fit than thin if you have heart problems.

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