Monday, November 1, 2010

Why You Need More "MUFAs" In Your Life

I've read and seen several news stories this week about MUFAs, and despite the fact that we talk about them all the time and know that they are good for us, I'm surprised at how much of a hot topic they are this week! I'm thinking people just like saying the word "MUFA"! That's fine by me because the more MUFAs you get in your diet, the better!

MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids - the kind you find in olive oil, avocadoes nuts and seeds - are the heart-healthy fats that we need more of in our diets. These fatty acids are one of the key features of the Mediterranean diet because they help lower bad cholesterol and offset the bad fats in our bodies. In fact, new research suggests that MUFAs can even help raise levels of "good" HDL cholesterol in our bodies.

Choosing foods that are low in cholesterol is a good starting point to lowering your overall cholesterol levels. But are you aware that most of the cholesterol circulating in our bodies is actually made within our bodies by our livers? Cholesterol is made when our bodies take excess circulating sugars and fats and pack them into triglycerides (TGs) for storage for future use. Those triglycerides are then packed into lipoproteins of various densities, one of which you might recognize as low-density lipoprotein (LDL). In other words, the best way to boost your bad cholesterol is by eating lots of refined or processed sugars and unhealthy fats.

The amount of actual cholesterol that we get from dietary sources is usually minimal, because foods that contain cholesterol had to have come from an animal, because that animal had to have a liver to make the cholesterol to begin with! Anything without a liver can't make cholesterol - so your Becel margarine never had cholesterol to begin with, and neither did your potato chips, but you can bet that they will sure make your liver make cholesterol! Those sneaky marketers!

So, if you make sure to load up on tons of fruits and veggies, with moderate amounts of nuts, seeds, and plant oils, and cut back on your meat consumption, you can bet your cholesterol levels will improve before you know it. Keep those MUFAs comin'!