In the last blog we discussed saturated fats. We will continue to discuss fatty acids with monounsaturated fats.
II. Monounsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated fatty acids are liquids at room temperature and semisolid or solid when refrigerated. Foods containing monounsaturated fats reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad”) cholesterol, while possibly increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good”) cholesterol.
There are two types of monounsaturated fatty acids.
1. Palmioleic acid (Omega 7) is found mainly in dairy foods.
The good: Recent evidence shows that palmioleic acid reduces the incidence of heart disease since it decreases blood cholesterol. It also lowers blood glucose levels thereby reducing the risk of type II diabetes. Milk is also a good source of protein.
The bad: I read over and over “Only calves should drink cow’s milk.” The negative aspects of dairy consumption are starting to out-number the positive. Dairy products contain a lot of saturated fat if you don’t choose “fat-free” products. Allergies and lactose intolerance are increasingly more common. Because of consumer awareness more people are avoiding mass produced milk and selecting hormone and pesticide-free dairy products. It is proven that sebaceous glands secrete more oil after consumption of all (even fat-free) dairy products. The response to dairy products mimics the reaction that occurs during puberty when we have increased oil production, which leads to acne.
2. Oleic acid (Omega 9) is what we commonly think of when referring to a monounsaturated fatty acid since olive oil (an omega 9) is becoming more commonly used in American food.
Various foods contain oleic acid. The richest and most common source of oleic acid is the olive and olive oil. Avocados, canola oil, nuts and seeds all contain oleic acid in varying amounts.
The good: The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidative substances. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL levels. Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet.
The bad: There is nothing really bad about fresh olive oil. However, olive oil can oxidize easily. Olive oil, as any other product containing antioxidants and/or oil is vulnerable to oxidation when it is exposed to light and oxygen. It must always be stored in an airtight, dark bottle and kept in a cool environment. Oxidized oils are dangerous to your health because they oxidize the cholesterol in your body and can also deplete our body’s antioxidant supply. Oxidation destroys antioxidants.