Monounsaturated Fat Examples in Food & Potential Benefits

, Staff Writer
Updated June 16, 2021
foods high in monounsaturated fats
    foods high in monounsaturated fats
    fcafotodigital / E+ / Getty
    Used under Getty Images license

Monounsaturated fats are often referred to as “good” fats and can positively impact health when consumed in moderation instead of less beneficial fats. Review this list of monounsaturated fats in foods to get an idea of what to eat if you want to increase your consumption of this healthy type of fat.

Monounsaturated Fat Examples in Food

In technical terms, monounsaturated fats are those with only one double-bonded carbon in the molecule. There are many examples of monounsaturated fats in food. Liquid at room temperature, while solidifying when chilled, monounsaturated fats are typically high in vitamin E and other nutrients people need.

Oils High in Monounsaturated Fat

Several oils appropriate for cooking tend to be high in monounsaturated fat. Use these oils when cooking instead of ones that are high in trans fat or saturated fat.


Nuts and Nut Butters

In addition to being a great source of protein, nuts can be a terrific source of monounsaturated fat. You don't have to eat whole nuts or seeds to include monounsaturated fat in your diet; nut butter is a great alternative to consider.

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • peanuts
  • macadamia nuts
  • pecans
  • pistachios
  • almond butter
  • cashew butter
  • peanut butter

Oily Fish as Monounsaturated Fat Examples

While not all fish is a good source of this particular type of fat, oily fish have monounsaturated fat at a high level, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids.

  • halibut
  • herring
  • pollock
  • sable
  • saury
  • salmon

Cheese High in Monounsaturated Fat

All cheese is high in fat, but they don't all contain a lot of monounsaturated fat. Discover examples of cheese highest in monounsaturated fat.

  • Anejo
  • gruyere
  • cheddar
  • Colby
  • cream cheese
  • fontina
  • Limburger
  • Monterey
  • muenster
  • Roquefort

Other Sources of Monounsaturated Fat

There are some other tasty foods to consider when you're looking for dietary sources of monounsaturated fat.

  • avocado
  • black olive
  • green olive
  • dark chocolate

Key Health Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats

Many potential health benefits are associated with incorporating foods with monounsaturated fat into the diet in moderation. At a level of 25-35 percent of daily consumption, when switched out for “bad” fats like saturated fats and trans fats, monounsaturated fats can help reduce the risk of a number of serious health conditions.

Lower Bad Cholesterol

Monounsaturated fats help to raise "good" (HDL) cholesterol while lowering "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol clogs arteries and blood vessels, causing dangerous blockages and negatively impacting cardiovascular health.


Reduce Heart Disease and Stroke Risk

A person who consumes a diet rich in healthy “good” fats, including monounsaturated fats, can dramatically reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, both of which are top killers in the United States and around the world. This is largely due to the impact eating this type of fat has on cholesterol.

Lower the Risk of Developing Certain Cancers

Instances of cancers such as breast and colon cancer seem to be lessened with a greater intake of monounsaturated fats, in contrast to consuming high levels of “bad” fats. This is particularly true when the monounsaturated fat comes primarily from plant sources.

Increase the Amount of Vitamin E in Your Diet

Antioxidant vitamin E helps to stimulate growth, restore cells and fight against free radicals in the body. Many Americans have a deficiency of vitamin E, but that problem can be reversed by consuming healthier fats.


Slimmer Midsection

Studies suggest that the consumption of “bad” fats can contribute to weight gain in the midsection (belly fat). Consuming monounsaturated fats instead of unhealthy ones as part of a healthy, reduced-calorie diet could contribute to a loss of fat in that part of the body.

Substitutions for Your Health

Countries where people eat what is now referred to as a Mediterranean Diet tend to have lower levels of heart disease than those in nations where consuming high levels of trans fat and saturated fat is the norm. Those places tend to use heart-healthy oils, like olive oil, that are rich in monounsaturated fat.

You can incorporate their habits into your diet. There are plenty of ways you can work foods with monounsaturated fat into your diet, just by making some basic substitutions.

  • Use refrigerated olive oil or avocado as a spread instead of butter.
  • If you're attached to using butter, reduce consumption by mixing it 50/50 with oil.
  • Use olive oil, safflower oil or another oil high in monounsaturated fat in your cooking instead of vegetable oil or shortening.
  • Snack on seeds or nuts instead of munching on chips or crackers. This will also help lower your carbohydrate consumption.
  • Try a few pieces of dark chocolate for dessert instead of ice cream, which is high in unhealthy fat.

Transition Carefully

While there are many health benefits to changing one’s diet to incorporate more monounsaturated fat examples, it is important to note that you should switch from foods with other types of fat to monounsaturated fats, not add more fat and calories into your diet. Generally, fats should compose no more than 30% of daily food consumption. Now you have seen lots of different examples of monounsaturated fats and learned about how they can impact health, review these examples of unsaturated fats so you can learn more about healthy fats.