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Polyunsaturated Fats and Monounsaturated Fats

photo of walnuts, olive oil and fish

Most of the fat that you eat should come from unsaturated sources: polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. In general, nuts, vegetable oils, and fish are sources of unsaturated fats. The table below provides examples of specific types of unsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated Fat SourcesOmega-6 Polyunsaturated Fat SourcesOmega-3 Polyunsaturated Fat Sources
Nuts
Vegetable oils
Canola oil
Olive oil
High oleic safflower oil
Sunflower oil
Avocado
Soybean oil
Corn oil
Safflower oil
Soybean oil
Canola oil
Walnuts
Flaxseed
Fish: trout, herring, and salmon


photo of olives, walnuts, canola oil, olive oil and fishPolyunsaturated fats can also be broken down into two types:

  • Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats — these fats provide an essential fatty acid that our bodies need, but can't make.
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats — these fats also provide an essential fatty acid that our bodies need. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids, particularly from fish sources, may have potential health benefits.

How do I control my polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat intake?

In general, nuts, vegetable oils, and fish are sources of unsaturated fats. The table below provides examples of specific types of unsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated Fat SourcesOmega-6 Polyunsaturated Fat SourcesOmega-3 Polyunsaturated Fat Sources
Nuts
Vegetable oils
Canola oil
Olive oil
High oleic safflower oil
Sunflower oil
Avocado
Soybean oil
Corn oil
Safflower oil
Soybean oil
Canola oil
Walnuts
Flaxseed
Fish: trout, herring, and salmon


Below are tips for including appropriate amounts of unsaturated fats in your diet:

  • Replace solid fats used in cooking with liquid oils. Visit Choose MyPlate – Daily Food Plans to learn more about your daily recommendations.
  • Remember any type of fat is high in calories. To avoid additional calories, substitute polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for saturated fats and trans fats rather than adding these fats to your diet.
  • Have an ounce of dry-roasted nuts as a snack. Nuts and seeds count as part of your meat and beans allowance on the MyPyramid plan.

More Information on Fats

 
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