Monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, constitute the cornerstone of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet. Although there are many regional variations of the Mediterranean diet, all of them are based on whole, healthy foods with an emphasis on monounsaturated-rich fats. MUFA fats are associated with lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Moreover, many MUFA-rich fats provide a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that prevents chronic diseases. If you wish to base your diet on MUFA fats, preparing a meal plan can help you better stick to your new way of eating.
Olive oil has the highest concentration of MUFAs among oils. Choose extra-virgin olive oil for preparing vinaigrettes, but select a regular olive oil for heating and cooking. Although olive oil is the fat of choice on the Mediterranean diet, to increase your MUFA intake, canola oil and sesame oil also constitute good options, according to the American Heart Association. Your MUFA diet should also include plenty of avocado and avocado oil as well as most nuts and seeds, especially macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts and sesame seeds.
To prepare your MUFA diet meal plan, have a few breakfast options based on MUFA-rich foods. For example, you can cook your scrambled eggs in olive oil, with a handful of spinach and mushrooms. Top your morning eggs with avocado slices. Almost half of the fat in egg yolks is MUFA. You can vary your meal plan by changing your eggs for a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal mixed with some plain yogurt, a small diced apple or pear, 1 to 2 tablespoons of almond or peanut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
For a quick and easy MUFA lunches that you can bring to work or to school, prepare your meal plan ahead of time and make sure you stock up your kitchen with all the ingredients you need. A salad is a good way to increase your vegetable intake on your MUFA diet. Fill up a bowl with leafy greens, cucumber, shredded carrots and cherry tomatoes. Add a source of protein, which you can vary from one day to another to have a different salad every day of the week on your meal plan. For example, you could have canned tuna, chicken breast, salmon, shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, beef or pork. Prepare a vinaigrette with extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil mixed with balsamic vinegar to add MUFAs to your lunch. You can also garnish your salad with slices of avocado and almonds for extra MUFAs.
Base your MUFA diet dinners on a combination of vegetables, protein and MUFA-rich fats. Plan ahead your meal plan for the entire week by varying the vegetables, protein and fat each night. For example, you can have either broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bok choy, eggplant, zucchini or a combination of them, along with fish, seafood, poultry or meat and a MUFA fat. Whether you simply have slices of beef with a tomato salsa, lettuce and guacamole, a quick stir-fry with pork, bok choy, a few peanuts and sesame seeds drizzled with sesame oil or a more elaborate eggplant chicken lasagna with plenty of olive oil, you dinner will help you get the MUFAs your body needs.