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
- extra virgin oil;
- avocado and avocado oil;
- cashew nut;
- red meat;