Monounsaturated fat
Credit: Dimitris Stephanides / Getty Images

Your body needs fat for energy and to be able to absorb key vitamins and nutrients from food. Unsaturated fats provide those perks without the dangerous downsides of saturated fats. The first type of unsaturated fats, monounsaturated, are found in many plant-based foods, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, as well as olive, sesame, canola, and sunflower oils. Studies show that monounsaturated fats improve cholesterol levels to lower heart-disease risk and help keep blood sugar in check, which lessens your likelihood of type 2 diabetes.

But here's the thing: Monounsaturated fats are still fat, meaning they pack in the calories – about 9 per gram. So although they're cardio-protective, you don't want to overdo it or you'll be eating far too much fat. There isn't a specific recommendation for how much monounsaturated fat to consume, but current guidelines say that your total daily fat intake should be 20 to 35 percent of total calories – 44 to 78 grams based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet – and most of that should be unsaturated.