Not all fats are created equal, as we hopefully know. But are you really eating the right fats to support your brain and overall health?
It was once assumed, or rather sold to us, that all fats make you fat. Bad fats can indeed contribute to higher fat in the body, not to mention create a host of other health problems such as high cholesterol, risk of heart disease and many inflammatory-based diseases, to name but a few.
Good fats on the other hand are not only good for us but should be positively embraced for how they can support weight loss, feed the brain, and for their ability to prevent or slow down health issues, in particular those associated with ageing. One reason being the brain is composed of almost 60% fat. Consuming the right fats can actually slow down cell degeneration and prevent loss of memory while maintain the right body weight (1).
Since the low fat craze started, obesity numbers have doubled and many other serious diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, have dramatically increased. Thankfully, today it is known that avoiding fat completely does not benefit us in the long run and is in fact damaging to our health for a number of reasons:
Firstly, as the brain is mostly made of fat, it absolutely needs fat to function properly. Low fat diets starve the brain of its main requirement to operate at a high level, and ultimately contribute to numerous brain issues.
Secondly, low fat diets often include high carb, sugar-laden foods, which are even worse and contribute to a host of other problems. Fat cells that produce cancer are fuelled by insulin and high sugar diets. Diabetes has also increased dramatically over the last few decades. The processed food and sugar industries benefitted greatly from this low fat craze, while people have gotten sicker and sicker.
Today we know that the best way to benefit your long-term health and to aid disease prevention is to reduce the bad fats only, reduce low fat, high sugar, processed foods, and add in plenty of good fats to our diets. This not only supports weight management but is the best way to support brain health.
The bad fats to avoid are some of the saturated and all trans fats. Think sticky, solid fat that stays solid at room temperature – meat fat, cheese, processed baked foods, pastries, cakes, muffins, packaged snack foods and fried foods.
Good fats are essentially some saturated, most monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fats, which include omega 3 fatty acids. Specific foods include ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocados, olives, nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and fatty fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel).
The best fats to add in for overall health are the omega 3’s. Known to reduce depression, protect against memory loss, reduce risk of disease, ease arthritis and support healthy pregnancy. If taking a supplement, which could be fish oils or algae based, ideally aim for at least 1000 milligrams of omega 3 fatty acids per day. Our bodies cannot produce essential fatty acids on their own, we need to ingest food or supplements to get them.
Other simple ways to ensure you get good fats every day are:
- drizzle olive oil on your salads (but never cook with it)
- cook with ghee or coconut oil, both of which can be heated to high temperatures without being denatured
- add ghee or grassfed butter with MCT oil (medium chain fats extracted from coconut oil, specifically C8 and C10) to your coffee instead of sugar and milk, bulletproof style, like we serve at Samahita. This is great in the morning and away from other foods. You’ll be satiated, satisfied and looking good because you got a cup full of energy that your body and brain thrives on and can continue to fast till lunch. Double whammy.
Delicious ways to enjoy good fats, improve your digestion, energy and, perhaps most importantly, support your brain health every day!
(1) Dietary fat is not a major determinant of body fat. (2002)
Willet W.C., Leibel RL