Fat: What was once the ugly stepchild of the dietary world is now being heralded as the savior of humankind. Okay, so maybe that’s taking things a little too far. But fat does offer great benefits for our bodies—and our minds. Read on to learn how to make fat work for your brain.
Is Fat Really Good for My Brain?
Yes. Believe it or not, our brains are composed of 60 percent fat . That being the case, it should come as no surprise that our brains need fat to work correctly. And even though the brain accounts for such a small portion of our bodyweight, it utilizes 20 percent of the body’s metabolic energy.
Good nutrition in general is key to maintaining a healthy brain (and keeping the rest of you healthy!). In fact, studies show that nutrition affects brain development and function throughout our lives. Fueling your brain with fat, in particular, encourages ketosis, which provides energy to the brain and helps protect against brain diseases, among other health benefits. A diet high in monounsaturated fats can also increase production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in learning and memory.
The Top 3 Dietary Fats for Better Brain Health
1. Polyunsaturated Fat
Polyunsaturated fats contain the essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3 and omega-6. Our brains need these fats to function properly (studies also show that eating high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids are linked toreduced rates of major depression, but our bodies are unable to produce them. This means it’s important that we include these fat sources in our diets.
An omega-3 fatty acid, DHA has been shown to help brain functions like memory, speaking ability, and motor skills. Increasing dietary levels of omega-3s has been shown to help improve conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.
3. Saturated Fat
Saturated fat is actually one of the main components of brain cells, and is therefore necessary for healthy brain function. In one study, it was found that people who ate more saturated fat reduced their risk for developing dementia by 36 percent. Saturated fat also provides benefits for the liver and immune system and helps maintain proper hormone balance.
Which Foods Can Help Brain Function the Most?
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