Continuing the Facts on Fats series, let’s look at monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs. We talked about these earlier when discussing saturated fats. You may recall that long chain saturated fats – which include beef, mutton, pork, dairy, and cocoa butter – are converted into monounsaturated fatty acids in the liver. The monounsaturated fats get their name from the bond between two carbons in the chain that is a double bond.
Properties of Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)
In what other foods are MUFAs found? Our main sources of MUFAs are olive oil and nut oils. They are also found in palm and coconut oils and in small amounts in milk. Canola oil is also monounsaturated, but many people, including myself, do not recommend its use. Canola oil is a highly processed oil coming from GMO rape plants and has not been shown to have any nutritional benefits. In fact, it is banned for use in baby formula and has been correlated with heart lesions and vitamin E deficiency.
MUFAs are liquid at room temperature and solid when refrigerated. They are moderately stable, but should be stored in dark containers to keep light out. Benefits of MUFAs include:
Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)
- Keep arteries supple
- Keep skin healthy
- Potent antioxidants
- Help protect the heart
Cooking with Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)
Olive oil is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It is ideal for low to moderate heat cooking. Some suggest that you not use it in high heat cooking. I believe that sautéing is okay, but not frying. At higher heats some of the beneficial properties can be destroyed and detrimental properties introduced. Olive oil is also excellent for raw dishes such as salad dressings, pestos, and dips.
Coming next week, in the Facts on Fats series is information on the healing fats.
What is your favorite use for olive oil?