What is Monounsaturated Fat?
A monounsaturated fat is a fatty acid, commonly found in many plant foods, which contains 1 double bond in it (except for the double bond present in the carboxyl group of the molecule).
First, to fully understand and appreciate a monounsaturated fat, let us just quickly go over what a saturated fat is. A saturated fat is a fatty acid chain whose carbon atoms are completely saturated with hydrogen. This means that every carbon atom in the fatty acid chain (with the exception of the carboxyl group of the molecule) contains a single bond with a hydrogen atom. This means it's completely saturated with hydrogen.
Take a look at the saturated fat, butyric acid, below, which is the acid which gives butter its flavor.
You can see above that every carbon atom is linked to a single hydrogen atom. In this way, it is saturated.
Now let's go back to the monounsaturated fat. Instead of every single carbon atom being linked with a single bond to a hydrogen atom, one of the single bonds is replaced with a double bond.
Below is an example of a monounsaturated fat, called oleic acid, to illustrate this point:
You can see how that double bond removes the need for 2 hydrogen atoms. Therefore, the fatty acid is no longer saturated with hydrogen atoms, as the above saturated fat was. This is why it is called an unsaturated fat. And mono (standing for one) means it has one double bond.
As you could see above, hydrogen atoms are eliminated where double bonds are formed. The body adds hydrogen, a process that saturates the fat. In other words, the unsaturated fat molecule is malleable and is subject to change within the body. The body can work with it and utilize it. It then integrates these self-manufactured saturated fats into our bodily structure as needed. This is why unsaturated fats are better for our bodies.
Sources of Monounsaturated Fat
Unsaturated fatty acids make up the bulk of plant fats. Whole-food raw plants sources of monounsaturated fat include avocados, almonds, and other nuts and seeds and their butters.
Even though monounsaturated fat is a healthier form of fat than its saturated counterpart, fat is still fat and should be kept low in our diet.
Whether it's healthy fat or bad fat, whether it's monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated fat, it should still be kept a low limit in our overall calories
which are consumed. Common health advisory is to keep fat to only 10% of calories consumed. And of that 10% of fat which is consumed, keep the S/P ratio (saturated
fat to polyunsaturated fat) to a 20/80 ratio, meaning of the fat consumed, make sure that 20% or less is saturated and 80% or more is mono or polyunsaturated.