Choosing The Right Fats
The PURE study is changing the answer to this question. The PURE study found that a high rate of fat intake, including saturated fat, was linked to a reduced rate of mortality.
The study concluded that low rates of saturated fat may even be detrimental to your health. Because our brains are very fatty and need fat in order to function well, it is important to understand what type of fats are conducive to brain health and which fats are bad for our brains.
The healthy fats help the brain function more efficiently. ;They are characterized as omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy fats are typically found in fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines. So including fish at least twice a week in your diet is a good step forward for brain health.
Avocados, nuts and seeds contain good unsaturated fats.
Some unsalted nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, pecans, and almonds, also contain good or healthy fats.
Vegetable oils like canola, olive, sesame and sunflower oil also have good fats in them.
When it comes to saturated fats, one of the clear winners is coconut oil. Coconut oil is one of the best oils for high-heat cooking and research suggests it may help increase HDL cholesterol.
But choose your saturated fats wisely and with moderation you can, put grass fed beef, free range chicken eggs and coconut oil back into your diet.
Additionally, artificial trans fats are harmful even in small amounts and the World Health Organization has called for their removal from food by 2023.
An Adult Brain Weighs About 3 Pounds
The cerebrum makes up 85% of the brains weight, and the brain makes up about 2% of a humans body weight. The texture of the brain is like a firm jelly. The heaviest normal human brain weighed 4.43 pounds. It belonged to the Russian Writer Ivan Turgenev. And the smallest brain, just 2.41 pounds, belonged to a woman.
Why Is There So Much Fat In Our Brain
09 June, 2020
Why is there so much fat in our brain? Fat seems to be the enemy in most diets. However, the brain contains fat and needs it to function. In fact, fat is the most abundant component of the brain , along with water. This makes it the fattiest organ in our entire body.
Thus, the brain collects a lot of the fat that we ingest and, contrary to what we might have expected, it doesnt do so for energy.
However, when we consume fewer calories, we dont reduce the level of fat in the brain. Moreover, reducing it through a low-fat diet would only affect its vital functions. Therefore, it isnt correct to assume that fat is bad for the brain, since its part of the brains structure and affects its performance.
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Continue Learning About Brain Health
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
Which Fat Is Good For The Brain
Many foods contain fat, but not all of them are good for your health or the brain. Of the fat present in the brain, 25% is cholesterol, which is essential for memory and learning. In fact, the brain cells themselves are responsible for making cholesterol.
The brains favorite fats are polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as omega. These, and in particular omega-3, are fatty acids necessary for the functioning of the brain and need to be replenished from time to time. In this case, the human body doesnt manufacture these types of nutrients, so its essential that we get them through food.
Here are some of the best foods to eat in order to supply the brain with the fats it needs:
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What Kinds Of Fats Are In Food
To help you figure out fats, here’s a look at the three major types:
1. Unsaturated fats: Found in plant foods and fish, these are seen as neutral or even beneficial to heart health. Unsaturated fats are:
- monounsaturated, found in avocados and olive, peanut, and canola oils
- polyunsaturated, found in most vegetable oils
- omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat found in oily fish like tuna and salmon
2. Saturated fats: Found in meat and other animal products, such as butter, shortening, lard, cheese, and milk . Coconut oil is also high in saturated fat, but it has a different structure than saturated fats found in animal products. Coconut oil has become popular due to its health benefits; however, olive and canola oils are more heart-healthy. Eating too much saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
3. Trans fats: Found in some stick margarines, commercial snack foods, baked goods, and some commercially fried foods. Trans fats are created when vegetable oils are hydrogenated .;Trans fats can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Food manufacturers must list trans fats on food labels, but may also refer to them as “partially hydrogenated” oils on the ingredient list. Many companies now make margarines without trans fats.
Cognitive Decline And Memory Loss
Omega-3 fatty acids shield against age-related mental decline and can aid learning and memory in adults of all ages, from young adults to .;
Numerous studies support that seniors;with higher levels of omega-3s, specifically DHA, have a significantly;lower risk of developing dementia or Alzheimers.;
The major source of omega-6 fats in our diet is from vegetable oils like canola, safflower, and soy oils.
The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, which is widely considered the healthiest way to eat, has a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
There is still some debate as to which is more important the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats or the absolute intake of omega-3s.
But either way, experts agree.
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Pounds Of Remarkable Matter
Made up of billions of neurons that communicate in trillions of connections called synapses, your brain is one of the most complex and fascinating organs in your body. Keeping your brain healthy and active is vital. Discover just how powerful it is with these interesting facts.
For Drizzling On Foods Salads Dressings And Other Cold Uses:
- Olive oil
- Hempseed oil
- Other nut and seed oils
Cold-pressed oils, as listed above, offer plenty of health benefits and add a delicious flavor. Because theyre high in unsaturated fats, theyre a poor choice for cooking though. Olive oil is particularly good for your heart due to its monounsaturated fats. Flax, walnut, and hemp oils provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
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Foods Packed With Healthy Fats
The monounsaturated fats in avocados benefit brain function and promote healthy blood flowand a healthy flow of blood to the brain means a highly functional brain. The creamy green superfood is also good for your heart. Their hefty dose of monounsaturated fatty acids can help lower cholesterol levels and may help prevent blood clotting. They also contain potassium, which may help control blood pressure, and magnesium, which has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease in men.
Salmon contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is best eaten steamed or lightly grilled in order to preserve the integrity of the omega-3s. If youre a sushi fan, youre in luck: Omega-3s are also present in raw fish.
4. Whole Eggs
Eggs contain both saturated fat and choline, which can boost memory skills and overall brain health.
5. Olive Oil
A healthy fat that can be added to almost any meal, olive oil can help to improve memory and protect against dementia and cognitive decline.
6. Coconut Oil
Why Humans Can’t Thrive On Plants Alone
When you think of animal fat, what comes to mind? Unsightly blobs of cellulite? Artery-clogging strips of gristle to be trimmed off your steak and tossed into the trash? Or a sophisticated substance that contains within it the secret to human intelligence?
Fun facts about fat
We think of fat as badthe less of it we eat, and the less of it we carry on our bodies, the betterbut this isnt the right way to think about it. Fat is not just for insulation and energy storage, its also for nutrient absorption, cell signaling, immune function, and many other critical processes. Many people think the main difference between plant and animal fats is that animal-sourced foods contain more saturated fat, but here are a few fun, fatty facts that may surprise you:
- All whole plant and animal foods naturally contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats.
- Some plant foods are higher in saturated fat than animal foods, with coconut oil topping the charts at 90 percent saturated fat. Thats more than twice the saturated fat found in beef fat .
- The primary type of fat found in pork is a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil.
- The essential dietary omega-3 PUFA is called alpha-linolenic acid
- The essential dietary omega-6 PUFA is called linoleic acid
EPA is an omega-3 PUFA that serves primarily anti-inflammatory and healing functions.
But what about DHA? So glad you asked
Baby, have we got a molecule for you
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What Kind Of Fat Does Your Brain Need
Your brain needs essential fatty acids to function properly. Because your body cant produce them, you have to get EFAs from your diet. The two primary EFAs are linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid . You get omega-6 mostly from plant oils such as corn, soybean, and sunflower, as well as from nuts and seeds.
Omega-3 fats are especially important for improving brain function, inflammation, and vision among many other things.;There are three main types of omega-3s:
- ALA can be found in foods like chia and flax seed.
- EPA and DHA are naturally found in marine food sources, including fatty fish salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring shellfish, and marine algae.
As you may know, the saturated and trans fats found in abundance in processed and fast foods are known to raise blood levels of unhealthy cholesterol.; According to Dr. Francine Grodstein, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Womens Hospital.:
We know thats bad for your heart. There is now a lot of evidence that its also bad for your brain.;;
How Much Fat Should Kids Get
Healthy fats are a vital part of a childs diet, and they should not be excessively limited or banned.;For young kids, especially, fat and cholesterol play important roles in brain development. And for those under 2 years old, fat should not be restricted. Generally, kids should eat a varied diet with about one third of calories coming from fat.
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Anything Hydrogenated Or Partially Hydrogenated
Hydrogenating is a chemical process where vegetable oils are turned into solid fats for easier use in packaged and prepared goods. The process actually converts the oils into trans fats, which are extremely bad for you. Science shows these fats increase LDL cholesterol, decrease HDL cholesterol, promote insulin resistance and inflammation, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, every 2 percent of calories of your diet from trans fats;increases the risk of heart disease;by a staggering 23 percent.
Your Brain On Fried Eggs: Saturated Fat Diet Dulls Dopamine System Impairs Cognitive Function
Chances are if something is bad for the heart, its bad for the brain too. According to a recent study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a diet high in saturated fat can lead to cognitive function impairment, specifically by dulling the dopamine reward system while increasing the dependency on unhealthy foods.
The consumption of saturated fat and trans fat can raise low-density lipoprotein since the body naturally produces it. This is considered bad;cholesterol because it contributes to plaque that can clog the arteries and make them less flexible, according to the American Heart Association.
Limiting the amount of saturated fats you eat to less than seven;percent of your totally daily calories is recommended to keep LDL cholesterol at bay. For example, if you need about 2,000 calories a day , less than 140 calories should come from saturated fats. Meanwhile, if you;limit;trans fats to less than one;percent of your total daily calories , less than 20 should come from trans fat. Eating fats that are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated are ideal for good health.
“As we were able to control for changes in body weight, hormones, and glucose levels, we think that the fats may be affecting the dopamine system by a direct action in the brain,” Fulton said. “We in fact have separate evidence that brain inflammation could be involved in this process, as it is evoked by saturated high-fat feeding, which will be presented in a future publication.”
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The Journey Into The Brain
Brain Activity Can Power A Small Light Bulb
When you are awake, your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity which is enough to power a small light bulb. The brain also works fast. The information going from your arms/legs to your brain travels at a speed of 150-260 miles per hour. The brain consumes glucose from the body to produce this amount of the energy.
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Keep The Brain Active
The more a person uses their brain, the better their mental functions become. For this reason, brain training exercises are a good way to maintain overall brain health.
A recent study conducted over 10 years found that people who used brain training exercises reduced the risk of dementia by 29 percent.
The most effective training focused on increasing the brains speed and ability to process complex information quickly.
There are a number of other popular myths about the brain. These are discussed and dispelled below.
Three Ways To Supplement Your Omegas
The science is clear: our brain needs and wants EPA and DHA. And while we always recommend whole food sources first and foremost to keep your brain happy and healthy, if you are using EPA and DHA therapeutically to address a brain or mental health concern, research suggests you may need to supplement. These are your best bets for getting those brainy benefits:
1) Fish Oil
Fish oil with 1000 mg EPA, as this is shown to be clinically effective in adults . Make sure its third party tested to ensure the doses are for real.
If you are vegan, vegetarian or have a fish allergy this will give you good levels of EPA and DHA.
3) Flaxseed oil + a multivitamin
If you insist on getting your omega-3s from ALA, a multivitamin will increase the chances of your body converting it to EPA and DHA.
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A Scientists Guide To Eating For Brain Health
Too often, when we think about our diet, were thinking about how it affects our bodies, not our brains. But as Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist and the author of Brain Food, points out, the things we eat affect a lot more than what we look like. Our diet affects our minds and shapes the way we think, feel, and age. As Mosconi, the associate director of the Alzheimers Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, tells us, What the brain needs to eat differs from what the rest of the body needs to eat. Turns out the brains number one favorite food is glucosea carbohydrate. And, Mosconi points out, not all glucose is the same. Having grown up in Florence, Italy, she knows a thing or two about good food and what a difference the quality of the food makes to the brains overall health. Thats why, in her practice, Mosconi combines neuroscience with cooking. Mosconi says, I spend nearly as much time examining cookbooks as medical journals. Cookbooks are essential to contemporary brain science, because every one of those recipes shapes our brains just as it builds our bodies.