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Which Foods Contain Monounsaturated Fatty Acids?

By Linda Tarr Kent

Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and trans fatty acids are the main types of fats in the foods you consume. The American Heart Association recommends you choose unsaturated fatty acids over saturated and trans fatty acids because eating this way helps to lower your blood cholesterol. Monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, also are a key element of the Flat Belly Diet.

Sauces and Spreads

Guacamole is a good snack because avocados are top source of monounsaturated fatty acids. Mashed avocado can be substituted for butter or margarine on your sandwiches as well. Give hummus, pesto, tahini and olive tapenade a try too, recommends Liz Vaccariello, author of the “Flat Belly Diet! Pocketbook Guide.”


Olives and olive oil are among the best-known food sources of monounsaturated fatty acids. These contain oleic acid, the most commonly occurring MUFA, notes Vishwanath M. Sardesai in “Introduction to Clinical Nutrition.” Canola oil provides monounsaturated fatty acids as well, according to the American Heart Association. Though MUFAs are beneficial, you still need to limit your overall fat intake if you want to maintain a healthy weight. For example, using 2 tbsp. of olive or canola oil on a salad versus 1 tbsp. causes you to consume an extra 120 calories, writes Liz Vaccariello. A monounsaturated oil is liquid at room temperature. It begins to solidify in the refrigerator.


The oil from peanuts has monounsaturated fatty acids in it, according to the American Heart Association. Tree nuts also are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, notes Jack Goldberg, lead author for the book, “The Four Corners Diet.” Nuts are an excellent source of fiber as well, Goldberg says.

Dark Chocolate

If you crave sweets, you are in luck. Dark chocolate is a favorite among MUFAs. It pairs well with fruit or yogurt, says Vaccariello. Dark chocolate also contains heart-healthy antioxidants that fight cell-damaging free radicals, note Sarí Harrar and Julia VanTine, authors of “Prevention’s The Sugar Solution.”

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