Most of us have been taught that fat is bad for us and that we should avoid it all costs. We have read numerous articles about how diets high in fat can lead to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. While consuming a lot of saturated (bad) fats can lead to health problems, studies show that eating certain kinds of fats can actually be good for your brain. The foods below contain the best dietary fats for better brain function.
Basically, polyunsaturated fats are fat molecules that have more than one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule, also called a double bond. They contain the essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3 and omega-6.
Our brains need these EFAs to function properly and can also reduce rates of depression. Olive oil is high in polyunsaturated fat; you can use it when cooking, and you can also drizzle it over salads and steamed vegetables. Other dietary sources include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout, as well as walnuts, sunflower seeds, tofu, and soybeans.
Another omega-3 fatty acid, DHA has been shown to improve cognitive function, especially in the elderly. Low levels of DHA in older people are linked to memory loss and mood swings. It has also been linked to dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism.
Increasing DHA in your diet has been shown to help improve depression and bipolar disorder. Dietary sources of DHA include the same foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, tofu, and beef.
This is probably a four-letter word for most of us who try to lead a healthy lifestyle, but recent studies have shown that saturated fat consumed in moderation can improve cognitive function.
One study showed that saturated fat consumption decreased their risk for dementia by 36%.
Another study showed that a ketogenic (high fat, low carb) diet offers effective treatment for Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. This doesn’t mean you should start eating unlimited amounts of pizza and hot dogs. Instead, you can incorporate high-quality sources of saturated fats into your diet like grass-fed meat and butter, whole milk and eggs, and coconut fat.
With this new information, we should stop banning fats from our diet and embrace them in moderation so that we can truly nourish our brains. Our brains are actually 60% fat, so it stands to reason that it would be a good idea to give it what it needs to work properly.
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