A Simple Way to Reduce Cholesterol: Meet Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

a variety of nuts and seeds: a sliced avocado, walnuts, peanuts, almonds and chia seeds

What are monounsaturated fatty acids?

Monounsaturated fatty acids are heart friendly fats that can help lower “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and improve levels of “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) – commonly found in plant nuts, olive oil, avocados etc. – are fatty acids that contain one double bond in the fatty acid chain (Figure 1). These are healthy type of fats. Examples of MUFAs are oleic acid, palmitoleic acid, and vaccenic acid.

Oleic Acid Structure

Figure 1 Oleic Acid Structure


Replacing saturated and trans fats in the diet with MUFAs helps in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol. MUFAs assist in preventing coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring a healthy blood lipid profile and protecting against type 2 diabetes by helping control blood sugar.

What is “bad” cholesterol?

LDL cholesterol is considered as “bad” cholesterol as it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries causing atherosclerosis. It results in narrowing and hardening of arteries which increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery diseases. Animal products are high in LDL cholesterol including beef, veal, pork, and egg yolk.

What is “good” cholesterol?

HDL Cholesterol is considered as “good” cholesterol because HDL acts as a scavenger and carries LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the arteries back to the liver to be metabolized and secreted out of the body. A healthy HDL cholesterol level protects against heart attack and stroke. Foods usually present in a Mediterranean diet – such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, whole grain oats, etc. – are found to lower LDL and increase HDL.


Obstacles to getting “good” cholesterol

One convenient way of getting a daily dose of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids is nut milks such as almond milk. However, not all almond milks available in the market are nutritious due to: a) presence of junk ingredients such as gums, emulsifiers, oils etc.; and b) lower number of nuts per serving. It is of utmost importance to look at the ingredient list and the nutrition label, especially if the intent is to improve the cholesterol profile in the body.

a tall glass of almond milk with raw almonds on the side

A solution for “good” cholesterol

One easy solution is Elmhurst® Unsweetened Almond Milk which is made with just two simple ingredients: almonds and water. It contains up to 4x more nuts than any other leading brand and has no added junk such as gums or emulsifiers. Elmhurst almond milk is loaded with heart friendly monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and palmitoleic acids. The nutrients are available in their highly digestible form owing to Elmhurst’s unique HydroRelease™ technology.