MUFA stands for monounsaturated fatty acids, and MUFA foods contain high levels of monounsaturated fats -- a healthy type of fat, according to the American Heart Association. MUFAs lower cholesterol levels, helping reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease. Knowing which foods are high in monounsaturated fats enables you to make heart-healthy choices. But even though these foods are high in healthy fats, they are also high in calories and should be consumed in moderation. Consult your doctor before specifically adding more fat of any type to your diet.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are particularly high in monounsaturated fats. A 1-ounce serving of macadamia nuts, for example, contains nearly 17 grams of monounsaturated fat. Other MUFA-containing nuts and seeds include almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and sesame seeds. Though nuts and seeds are also high in calories, Harvard Medical School suggests a handful of nuts per day or a heaping tablespoon of seeds as a recommended serving.
Several cooking oils are high in monounsaturated fats, including sesame, peanut, canola, safflower and olive oil. Drizzle a teaspoon of any of these oils over a salad, or on vegetables in place of butter, to increase your monounsaturated fat intake. A study from the University of Vienna, published in the 2014 issue of "Lipids in Health and Disease," noted that consumption of olive oil, in particular, reduces risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke by 9 to 17 percent.
MUFAs in Avocados
The next time you're tempted to dip into some fresh guacamole, go ahead. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat, and a 1-ounce serving contains roughly 3 grams -- that's approximately one golf-ball sized scoop of avocado. A medium avocado -- 3 to 4 inches long -- weighs roughly 5 ounces, so one serving size is one-fifth of it. Be careful to not overindulge in avocado -- although 1 cup contains 23 grams of monounsaturated fat, it is also nearly 400 calories. Add a slice to a sandwich or chop some fresh avocado onto a salad to incorporate it into your diet.
Meats and Fish
Several meats contain fair amounts of monounsaturated fat, but that doesn't necessarily make them healthy. For example, a 3-ounce serving of cooked ham has 20 grams of monounsaturated fat, but it also contains 14 grams of saturated fat. If you consume 2,000 calories per day, the American Heart Association suggests that you get no more than 16 grams of saturated fat per day, so a single serving of ham would put you almost over your daily limit. Ham also has unhealthy levels of sodium. Better meat choices include poultry or fish, both of which also contain monounsaturated fats but far less saturated fat. A 3-ounce serving of cooked Atlantic salmon contains 2.2 grams of monounsaturated fat, but only 1 gram of saturated fat, making it a low-fat, low-calorie food.
- American Heart Association: Monounsaturated Fats
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Macadamia Nuts, Raw
- Harvard Health Publications: Harvard Medical School: Plant-based diet: Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes Can Help Get You There
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrients List -- Monounsaturated Fats
- Lipids in Health and Disease: Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, Olive Oil and Health Status: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Avocados, Raw, California
- AvocadoCentral.com: Avocado Nutrition Facts & Label
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pork, Cured, Ham, Separable Fat, Boneless, Heated
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Salmon, Atlantic, Wild, Cooked, Dry Heat
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."