5 Healthiest Monounsaturated Foods

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To a dieter, the only thing scarier than trying on a bathing suit is fat. Not all fats, however, are the same. Technically speaking, monounsaturated fats have one double-bonded carbon that’s unsaturated, meaning that it generally doesn’t come from an animal source, according to the American Heart Association. When you eat them in moderation, foods with monounsaturated fats can benefit your health, lower your risk of heart disease and reduce levels of bad cholesterol.

5 Fatty Fish

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Most animal food sources contain artery-clogging saturated fats, but some types of fatty fish are the exception. These fish include Pacific and Atlantic mackerel, trout, tuna and salmon because they’re rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If you love any of these fish, eat 4 ounces of it (about the size of a deck of cards) twice a week. The best ways to prepare the flaky meat is to broil, grill or bake it.

4 Dark Chocolate

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While chocolate contains saturated fat, about half of the total fat in the decadent treat comes from monounsaturated fats. What makes dark chocolate healthier than its milky counterpart is the higher levels of antioxidants. With more unprocessed cacao beans and less milk, dark chocolate has higher health benefits when consumed in moderation.

3 Almonds

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Most nuts and seeds contain healthy monounsaturated fats, but almonds with skins are among the healthiest because they also contain high levels of antioxidants, Vitamin E and manganese. Plus, the almond contains tryptophan and Vitamin B-12, which are linked to increasing the feel-good chemicals in your brain. Almonds can help prevent blood-sugar spikes, making them a great ingredient and snack for those with Type II diabetes.

2 Olive Oil

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Olive oil (and olives, for that matter) is rich in monounsaturated fats. The Everyday Health website shares that olive oil has triglycerides that contain the healthy fatty acids, including the omega-9 fatty acid known as oleic acid. While health nuts tend to shy away from most oils, the fatty acids in olive oil make it cardio-protective. Use olive oil in your salads and as a substitute for butter when you cook. Your ticker will thank you.

1 Avocados

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Once thought of as a no-no food because of their high levels of fat, scientists learned that avocados have high levels of healthy monounsaturated fats. The AHA recommends adding the green delight as part of a heart-healthy diet. It’s important to keep in mind that avocados are high in calories, so don’t double-fist them into your mouth. Instead, add a few slices to your meal, dice some pieces into a salad or mix mashed avocado with some lime juice and a bit of salt to make a creamy sandwich spread to replace your mayo.

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.

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