Our bodies need FAT.
Many of us have been led to believe that fats are bad for us. The marketing slogans of “Low Fat” and “Fat Free” have led many to believe that by selecting these items, they were choosing a “Healthy” option. Unfortunately, those phrases do not mean health, in fact, it is often the opposite. I remember when I was growing up my parents had a friend who was consumed with keeping her small figure. She often stocked up on “Fat Free” snacks. I was always mesmerized by the thought that she was eating cookies and crackers all while thinking she was doing great with her health because they were “Fat Free”. Fast forward a few years, I realized that those phrases were all just a marketing ploy to sell more cookies and crackers. The thought of fat being such a horrible thing always stuck around in the back of my mind but I was always conflicted. How could all fats be bad? Why did I witness others having a chicken breast to avoid extra fats, while I was having a burger or a nicely marbled steak? I grew up on our amazing grass fed beef, pastured pork and our free range chickens and never had a worry about the fats found in our meats. To me, there was definitely something suspicious when people would avoid fats in meat but fill up on “Fat Free” snacks. Let’s dive into some science to find out where the truth lies.
Our brains are made up of 60% fat, so it only makes sense that it needs fat to work correctly. Good nutrition, and consuming the right kinds of good fats, is key to maintaining a healthy brain. When we fuel our brain with fat, it encourages ketosis, which provides energy and helps protect against brain disease. A diet that is high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) can also increase the production of a neurotransmitter that is important for learning and memory. A great food source for MUFAs is Avocado. I love this creamy green superfood in guacamole or in my morning smoothie!
Another healthy fat type is saturated fats; they are actually one of the main components of brain cells. Maybe you have heard of the benefits of coconut oils in regards to preventing and treating Alzheimer’s or other brain diseases. In one study, it was found that people who ate more saturated fat reduced their risk for developing dementia by 36 percent. Saturated fats are also necessary for proper hormone balance along with good immune and liver function. Some great examples of saturated fats are beef, lamb, pork, butter, coconut oil and palm oil.
Polyunsaturated fats contain the well-known essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. These are so important to our brains ability to function properly but our bodies cannot produce them; we must include sources of these fats in our diet. An omega-3 known as DHA is also very important and has been shown to help improve conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and even ADHD. If you are suffering from one of these conditions, consider taking a closer look at your diet. You must make sure that you are eating foods high in DHA such as:
- Fatty fish, like anchovies, salmon, herring or tuna
- Organ meat, like liver
- Fish oil
- Poultry and eggs in small amounts
Fats in our diet are so interesting and very much needed for optimum health. Please be sure to choose healthy foods with healthy fats that will help your brain instead of harm your body. Stay away from Trans Fats and hydrogenated oils that can be harmful and choose some of the fats above to nourish your brain.