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What Are MUFAs? | Ask the Fitness Nerd

Posted Nov 09 2008 10:50pm

What’s a MUFA? The Fitness Nerd explains what this funny acronym means and why MUFAs are suddenly the rage among dieters.

Dear Fitness Nerd:

What are MUFAs? I keep hearing people talk about them, but I still haven’t quite figured out what they are. I know they are a type of fat, but I thought fats were unhealthy and should be avoided. Are they a supplement of some type like CLA? - Kayla R, (West Hollywood, CA)

MUFAs are an acronym for a “monounsaturated fatty acids” — a class of healthy fats found in foods like nuts and seeds, avocados, Image of Olives and Olive Oil - Example of MUFAs olives and certain vegetable oils. MUFAs are not typically taken as a supplement (as Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA often is), since they are plentiful in foods. 

MUFAs have gotten a lot of attention recently for three reasons:

1. MUFAs may help you lose weight.

There is some evidence that people who regularly consume MUFAs have lower body fat levels and are more successful at dropping body fat and weight than people who are on low-fat, carbohydrate rich diets.

This research flies in the face of  the conventional-wisdom that drove the low-fat craze of the 80s and 90s, which advised people to reduce their fat consumption as much as possible in order to lose weight, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke, high-blood pressure and heart disease. The latest research actually suggests that diets which are higher in healthy fats like MUFAs may be more effective at weight-control than low-fat diets.

2. MUFAs may reduce the risk of disease.

A growing body of research shows that MUFAs may not only help people lose fat, but that they also have protective properties that may lower the risk of developing certain diseases, including Type II Diabetes, heart disease, stroke and possibly certain types of cancers. MUFAs are also part of The Portfolio Diet, which is an approach to eating that combines MUFAs with other cholesterol-lowering foods like soy, plant sterols and soluble fiber from things like oatmeal  and may reduce blood cholesterol-levels as effectively as prescription statin drugs.

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