Monounsaturated fat—a staple in the Mediterranean diet—may actually help you whittle your middle, manage blood sugar levels, and reduce your risk for heart disease. Here are four of the tastiest ways to get more beneficial monos in your diet.
Hass Avocados (1/5th medium or 1 oz): 3 grams
Delicious, creamy and luscious…what’s not to love about avocados? You can boost beneficial monos in your diet by enjoying more avos—and in more ways than as a side-kick dip to chips. A 1-oz. serving of the fruit contains 4.5 grams of fat and 75% of the fat comes from the “good” monos and polys. Avocados also contribute nearly 20 different vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients including vitamin E, folic acid, fiber and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Avocados may act as a nutrient-booster, so you absorb more of the fat-soluble beneficial carotenoids in plant foods. In addition to your favorite guac, try fresh avocados on sandwiches or toast, on top of your tomato or veggie soup or try this avocado egg salad or tuna salad.
Dark Chocolate (1 oz): 4 grams
An ounce of dark chocolate a day might keep the doctor away! With a little over 3.5 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat per ounce--that’s equivalent to about one square of rich and creamy indulgence--this is a sweet treat that’s truly heart smart. Look for dark chocolate with a high cacao content, (preferably 70% or higher), since more cacao means greater health benefits and less added sugars. Recent research shows that eating high-cacao dark chocolate may improve blood vessel function. For a double blast of antioxidants, melt 70% or higher dark chocolate over berries, have a square of dark chocolate with a cup of green tea, or if you’re feeling extra indulgent, have a small square of luscious dark chocolate with a glass of antioxidant rich red wine.
Olive Oil (1 tablespoon): 10 grams
Just one tablespoon of olive oil has about 10 grams of monounsaturated fat and is low in unhealthy saturated fat. Olive oil is one of the most versatile oils you can use. You can saute with it, use it for salad dressings or dipping bread. In addition, the more mild "light" olive oils can be used in baked goods. For the most health benefits, use extra-virgin, since it’s made from the first pressing of the olives and contains the highest antioxidant levels.
Peanut Butter (1 tbsp): 4 grams
Sometimes there’s nothing more comforting than a good old PB&J sandwich. Besides being absolutely scrumptious, this kid-friendly classic is also good for your heart. With close to 4 grams of monounsaturated fat per 1 tablespoon serving, peanut butter also provides a hearty dose of fiber, as well as other important vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes, compared to those individuals who rarely eat nuts. Spread natural, unsalted peanut butter on crunchy apple slices, use to whip up a satay sauce, or add to a smoothie. If you’re feeling extra creative, try these Peanut Butter and Banana Mousse treats for a low-cal indulgence.