New research is showing that the fat you eat may be affecting how well your brain is functioning. For a long time, the nutrition and medical community have been concerned with how fat is affecting our hearts, but now, research is showing those same fats that keep your heart healthy can keep your brain healthy too.
In one study, women who consumed higher amounts of monounsaturated and Omega-3 fatty acids showed better performance on cognitive tests. On the other hand, women whose diets included more saturated and trans-fats had less desirable outcomes. There was no difference found with how much fat the women ate, but instead, the type of fat seemed to be the key factor influencing their brain’s performance.
In another study, conducted by a Gene Bowman, a Naturopathic Doctor at OHSU, it was found that trans fat not only resulted in poor brain performance, but participants also had “less total cerebral brain volume.”
To improve your brain function, substitute healthy fats for those “bad” fats. Remember, about 60% of your brain is fat. Don’t avoid fat in your diet, but rather, make healthy choices that will be good for your brain and for your heart.
Sources of Good Fat:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines
- Ground flax seeds
- Olive oil (avoid cooking with it)
- Coconut oil (better cooking option)
- Organic Ghee
- Organic Grass fed butter
- Organic Grass fed tallow
- Organic Lard
- Duck fat
Sources of Bad Fat:
- Hydrogenated oils
- Candy, cookies and other products made with hydrogenated oils (be wary of the ingredients list)
- French fries & fast foods
- Corn fed or non-organic saturated fats
Saturated fat coming from grass fed beef tend to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids (although, not enough to make this your primary source), B vitamins and antioxidants. While these studies did show that saturated fat is associated with poorer outcomes, it is worth noting that the saturated fat in most Americans diets are coming from highly processed sources and poor quality meats. Saturated fat is necessary in our diet, but in moderation with a mindfulness about the source.