Monounsaturated fats are recognized as a healthy group of fats. They are unsaturated -- meaning their chemical structure includes one double-bonded carbon in the molecule. Monounsaturated fats can have a beneficial effect on your health when you consume them in moderation and use them to replace saturated fats or trans fats. They can help lower bad cholesterol, which in turn can lower your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that your total fat intake should not exceed 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories.
Oils rich in monounsaturated fat include olive, peanut, canola, sunflower and sesame. These oils are good choices to use in cooking, and they are widely available at grocery stores. Olive oils are also commonly used in Italian and Greek cuisines. Some Italian foods made with olive oil are bruschetta, tomato sauce and pizza sauce. Greek salads such as arugula, artichoke and cabbage salads are made with olive oil. You can also use small amounts of these monounsaturated oils on salads instead of salad dressing.
Nuts and seeds are good sources of monounsaturated fat. These include almonds, peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, and pistachios. Nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter are also a good source of monounsaturated fat.
Other foods with monounsaturated fat are avocados and black or green olives. Guacamole, made out of avocados, is a flavorful side dish for Mexican cuisine and a healthy dip choice. Black and green olives are great on salads or as pizza toppings.