The impact of nutritional behaviors on health is beyond debate and has the potential to affect the economic outputs of societies in significant ways. Dietary fatty acids have become a central theme in nutrition research in recent years, and the popularity of dietary oils rich in healthy fatty acids, such as monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), for cooking applications and use in food products has increased. Here, the objective is to summarize the health effects of MUFA-rich diets and to systematically estimate the potential healthcare and societal cost savings that could be realized by increasing MUFA intakes compared with other dietary fat intakes in the United States. Using a scoping review approach, the literature of randomized controlled clinical trials was searched and a 4-step cost-of-illness analysis was developed, which included estimates of success rate, disease biomarker reduction, disease incidence reduction, and cost savings. Findings revealed improvements in established biomarkers and in incidence of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, along with potentially substantial annual healthcare and societal cost savings when recommendations for daily MUFA intake were followed. In summary, beyond the beneficial health effects of MUFA-rich diets, potential economic benefits suggest practical implications for consumers, food processors, and healthcare authorities alike.
Keywords: coronary heart disease; diabetes; healthcare cost savings; monounsaturated fatty acid; nutrition economics.