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What is monounsaturated fat?

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Monounsaturated fat is a type of fat with the potential to lower the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol levels. It differs from saturated fat on a chemical level, with one carbon molecule remaining unbonded. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, nuts, avocados, nut butters and similar oils.

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Monounsaturated fat also affects insulin levels and blood sugar control, helping people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. It is usually liquid at room temperature, further differentiating it from solid fats, such as saturated fat and trans fat.

Certain fats, such as monounsaturated fat, are classified as "good fats" because of their anti-inflammatory properties and their beneficial effects on cholesterol. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should make up the bulk of fat in a person's diet, replacing solid fats as much as possible. However, there are no strict guidelines to quantity of consumption of these fats. While the American Heart Association recommends limiting fat intake to 8 to 10 percent of calories per day, the traditional Greek diet can have at least 30 percent of its calories come from fat.

The 1990s saw the rise of low-fat diets, but studies about the important health benefits of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have revealed that good fats are crucial to maintaining good general health.

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