MUFA’s Are Your Friends

January 14th, 2009

It always amazes me when I overhear someone exclaim, “I don’t eat fat!”

My first reaction is to shake my head and whisper under my breath “that’s too bad.”

But if I happen to be part of the conversation, I ask why? And almost always their answer is “fat is bad for me!”

I then ask, “Have you ever heard of MUFA’s?

“MUFA’s?”

“What’s a MUFA?”

Got Fat?

MUFA stands for Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. Health experts including the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association label monounsaturated fatty acids “good fats.”

While the acronym MUFA doesn’t sound appealing, MUFA foods and diets that incorporate MUFA foods have recently become very popular and trendy. But actually, diets where MUFA foods are staples (The Mediterranean Diet) have been around for a very long time.

Adherents of diets based on MUFA foods understand that trying to eliminate fat from a diet is nether neither healthy nor the best way to lose weight. According to the Harvard School of Public Health eating low fat foods has not made a large impact on weight loss in this country. It’s not so much about fat; more importantly it’s about the right type of fat. And so a MUFA diet incorporates certain types of foods that contain predominantly “good fat” into a healthy and nutritious diet.

Foods that come from natural sources and that are unprocessed, and which don’t contain trans fat, saturated fat or animal-based fat. Check nutrition labels on the foods you buy or use an online nutrition guide to find foods, which contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Any diet or way of eating can be modified to include MUFA foods.

Identifying MUFA foods is not difficult. MUFA foods tend to fall into certain food group categories that include oils made from vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

MUFA foods are not the lowest calorie foods available to dieters, but when used in moderation, have been shown to help dieters successfully lose weight.

Cooking oils, including olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil and the less popular, but healthy grape seed oil (a light oil which raises good cholesterol levels), walnut oil, flax seed oil and soybean oil are all considered MUFA foods.

Nuts and seeds including almonds, macadamia nuts, peanuts, and all natural – no sugar added – butter forms of these nuts and seeds are MUFA foods.

As well as avocados, olives, and finally, dark chocolate.

All right! There you have it. Now you know what a MUFA is.

We must remember that fats play an important role in our daily physiological processes.

Not only are fats an abundant source of energy (supplying 9 calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram from carbohydrates and proteins), but also aid in the absorption and transport of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), help to maintain healthy skin and hair, insulate our internal organs, and “good fats” provide two essential fatty acids: omega 3 fat/alpha-linolenic acid, and omega 6 fat/linoleic acid.

And, we must admit… Fat Tastes Good! And makes food taste better.

So the key is not to eliminate fats from our diets, but to replace “not as healthy” fats with “healthy fats” that help us reach our weight loss and body composition goals, keeps our heart’s healthy, and our taste buds happy.

Low fat is good – No fat isn’t!

Original story by Pam Gaulin / Associated Content, with contributions by Carlos A. Reyes

Categories: Diet & Nutrition, Health & Wellness, Weight Loss

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