Monounsaturated fats are generally not controversial: most nutritional theories agree that they are healthy “good fats.” The Mediterranean Diet, for example, abundantly uses these fats, as does the Weston Price diet.
The body can in principle synthesize these fats for itself, but prefers to get them in food.
The most natural vegetarian sources are: olive oil, avocados, and almonds. It might surprise you that in addition, the fat of chicken, pork, turkey, and beef is 40% to 50% composed of the identical healthy fat!
These fats are one of the four kinds of fats; the others are saturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats.
Here are the top fats, each with the percentage that is monounsaturated. Nearly all of that portion in these foods is composed of the fatty acid called oleic acid.
Fats in food are composed of mixtures of the four types of fat. (Sometimes food is referred to as a type of fat when that fat is predominant.)
High-oleic sunflower oil: 81%
High-oleic safflower oil: 80%
Olive oil: 72%
Avocado oil: 71%
Almond oil: 61%
Canola oil: 60%
Chicken fat: 50%
Pork fat: 48%
Peanut oil: 46%
Turkey fat: 44%
Beef fat: 42%
Sesame oil: 41%
Olive oil is both well-studied and a very ancient traditional food. Unlike other contemporary oils, it is widely available unrefined as “extra-virgin olive oil.”
Olives are mechanically pressed to extract the oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is the oil from the first pressing. It retains the special phytochemicals (“plant chemicals”) that are believed to be the source of many of olive oil's beneficial effects.
Olive oil and the Mediterranean diet have been shown in studies to improve outcomes for heart disease patients. The FDA has approved a qualified health claim for olive oil that begins, “Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil.”
Canola oil is controversial and has many strikes against it. It is often recommended as “healthy.” However, I cannot find a justification for using a vegetable oil that may or may not be poisonous, when there are so many alternatives.
Canola's immediate ancestor, rapeseed, is thought to have toxic amounts of the fatty acid called erucic acid. Erucic acid has been shown to cause heart damage in animals.
Rapeseed was cultivated to contain less erucic acid; the result was dubbed “canola.” Yet without erucic acid, canola was defenseless against pests! Canola was then artificially genetically modified to endure dousing in pesticides. 90% of canola in the U.S. is genetically modified.
After this toxic beginning, canola oil is always refined, which generates trans fats and other toxins. And when you see canola oil on an ingredients label, it is usually partially hydrogenated (whether stated or not); the hydrogenation process creates a large amount of trans fats.
Canola carries toxins at every stage: its genetic heritage, its genetic modification, its heavy pesticiding, refining, and hydrogenation.
Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats. Monounsaturated fatty acids are listed here in a conventional way, by the number of carbon atoms.
The most commonly found in food are: oleic acid and palmitoleic acid.
Palmitoleic Acid: conditionally essential