Contrary to what we were told years ago, our brains are made up of 50-60% fat and they NEED daily fat to function. We are finding out that the low fat diet promoted in the past was not consistent with brain building. But, neither is a diet of processed and refined fats. Fat matters.
We have to ensure that we are consuming healthy brain promoting fat, and not health and brain harming fats.
Vegetable oil, for example, sounds like it would be a healthy fat because it comes from vegetables, but instead, due to the way in which it is processed and refined, it is toxic to the brain. The toxic byproducts formed in the processing and refining cause the brain (and body), to inflame, which as we know, is a brain destroyer, not a brain builder. In fact, studies have shown that people that consume vegetable oil on a regular basis have a higher likelihood of homicide, suicide, violence and crime. This certainly is not what we want for our brainiacs.
It should be no problem to avoid all bad fats if you eat at home and make meals from scratch. There are plenty of really great good fats to replace the toxic ones. The difficulty lies in the processed foods and the restaurant food. They do not choose to use good fats, as that would affect their profit line. So unfortunately, processed foods must go if we are building an unstoppable brainiac.
- Vegetable Oil
- Soy Oil
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Any hydrogenated oils
- Any refined oils
So, what are the good fats? And how much is needed for optimal brain development? Note; some good fats can not be heated in order to retain it's benefits.
Good fats that can be heated include:
- Quality Olive Oil (some are mixed with vegetable oil so be careful to get good quality)
- Avocado Oil and avocados
- Peanut Oil
- Cocoa Butter
- Macadamia Nut Oil
- Almond Oil
Good fats that need low temperatures when heating include:
- Walnut Oil
- Flax Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Fatty fish such as salmon
- Artisanal Grapeseed Oil
A new oil of interest that is not on Dr. Cate's list, but Dr. Hyman talks highly of in his Eat Right For Your Brain Video is MCT Oil (Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil). He has found that this oil in particular really pushed his brain to achieve increased mental clarity. He recommends it highly.
So, how much do our children need daily to encourage optimal brain health? Well, good fats should comprise of 65-75% of the daily calories, and should be varied in type. Our kids need Omega-3 fats, Omega-6 fats, essential fatty acids, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Yes, cholesterol. Our brains need cholesterol. There is no evidence that lowering cholesterol reduces heart disease, yet there is evidence that lowering cholesterol lowers brain function, so let's keep it in.
The most important fat for the brain appears to be the omega-3 fat DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This is found in algae, seafood, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oil, and egg yolk.
It is best to avoid bad fats at all costs and to have a variety of whole foods and good fats day to day, meal to meal, and not rely on one source. New evidence-based science emerges daily. Having a varied diet of whole foods, oils, nuts, seeds, pastured eggs, and fish will help ensure that your brainiac is......