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What is a MUFA Diet?

By Douglas Bonderud
Updated Feb 04, 2024
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A MUFA diet is an eating plan that focuses on the consumption of foods containing monounsaturated fatty acids. In fact, the term MUFA is an acronym for monounsaturated fatty acid. They are called monounsaturated because they posses only one double bond between their carbon atoms, while polyunsaturated fats have more than one. MUFAs are found in plant-derived foods, such as peanut oil, avocados, flax seeds, and chocolate chips.

Prevention magazine originally featured the MUFA diet, which is also commonly known as the flat belly diet. Proponents claim that the diet can reduce the buildup of fat in the abdomen. A 2007 study by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) found that insulin-resistant subjects with central body fat deposits saw a reduction in central body fat when on a MUFA diet, as compared to a carbohydrate-rich diet. There is therefore some evidence to conclude that a MUFA diet can reduce abdominal or belly fat.

Focusing more on portion control and the addition of one MUFA food per meal, the MUFA diet recommends three, 400-calorie meals per day, and one snack of the same value. Each meal or snack needs to contain at least one MUFA food. Adding such a food, like olives, to a pasta dish, or peanut butter to a smoothie are some of the recommendations given. The MUFA diet is actually an eating plan more than a diet, as it does not drastically reduce calorie intake, but concentrates on adding specific foods to a daily routine.

Studies have indicated that MUFAs have the ability to inhibit the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increase the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) present in the body. LDL is commonly called bad cholesterol as it can be consumed by a white blood cell and then stick to the lining of an artery, causing a buildup that is known as plaque. HDL, also known as good cholesterol, is thought to scrub the arteries clean, producing a more efficient system.

The original flat belly diet claimed that participants could shed 15 pounds of abdominal fat in one month, if the plan was followed. While studies indicate a moderate amount of abdominal weight loss is possible with this plan, as compared to a high carbohydrate diet, losses of the magnitude described are not well documented. The MUFA diet has the benefits of being low-intensity and placing minimal pressure on the body, typically resulting in moderate weight loss.

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