Let’s face it, fat has had a bad rap, much like eggs.
Don’t eat it.
But, the reality is, the human body needs good fat for a variety of functions including creating hormones, healthy pregnancy, storing energy, insulating the organs, and to act as messengers for protein.
Many of the vitamins your body needs require fat to be absorbed; you’ve heard of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K, for example. Even better, plenty of healthy fats in your diet can help you lose excess weight and support a healthier lifestyle. Not to mention, when you add healthy fats to food and recipes it add flavor, nutritional density, and satiety.
With so many options out there, keep in mind as to what type of fat we’re talking about: healthy fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and Omega-3s, in this case.
Wow, with some many important benefits of fat how can you not be excited knowing we haven’t reached the best part yet; which is that fat can help make you smarter!! Who doesn’t want to be smarter?!
Here are a few healthy reasons to add good fats into your diet.
1.You can hold off Alzheimer’s
You’ve worked hard over the years, built memories, and cherished every moment of the life you lived; luckily, adding healthy fats into your diet can protect your brain against Alzheimers and dementia. Alzheimer’s affects millions of people, 5.4 million in American alone. However, there is good news, research is showing you can lower your risk through control of your diet.
According to a study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, which compared the effects of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. The group who ate a balanced diet with monounsaturated fats had a change in brain chemistry which improved cognitive abilities, slowed decline, improved their resiliency and decreased their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
How do you get these benefits? By adding super healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil to your diet.
2.You can improve your memory
A diet high in monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil helps the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Granted, it’s a mouthful of a word, but it’s important for memory. Without dumping a ton of medical jargon on you, which, aside from putting you to sleep, will only leave you confused, I’ll put it simply: Good fats increase acetylcholine and it depolarizes potential membranes, blocking adaption. In this case, blocking adaptation creates a stronger memory. Acetylcholine derived from good fats also blocks transmission in the hippocampus of the brain in order to prevent old memories from interfering with making new memories.
In short, acetylcholine is important for encoding and creating new memories, as a shortage of monounsaturated fats inhibits the body’s ability to create new memories. The clearer you’re able to remember new skills, ideas, and lessons the more you apply them to your life, making you smarter in your everyday activities. You can read more on the importance of acetylcholine in this article.
3.You can improve your ability to learn
There is a lot of hype about Omega-3s lately, and fish oil has become a must in many American homes because of its reputation for producing healthy heart benefits. Of these, DHA is important for brain and learning, without it the structural and functional integrity of brain cells are compromised. Compromised cell functions equals compromised learning and retaining abilities.
The adage that we lose our cognitive abilities as we get older needs to be put to permanent rest, with proper diet and supplementation your cognitive abilities will stay sharp into your golden years. With Omega-3s and DHA in your diet the body is provided the nutrients needed to create the neurotransmitters for cell/nerve communication and processing of new information. To read more about this, check out this article.
How do you add more Omega-3s and DHA to your diet? You can get them from flaxseed, walnuts, and, of course, a fish or krill oil supplement. If you’re using a supplement make sure it’s a pharmaceutical grade fish oil and one which uses wild caught fish to help prevent the risk of mercury.
4.Your digestive tract can get better, making you smarter
The connection between the digestive tract and brain is still relatively new, but new studies are showing how your gut health and your thinking abilities are tightly interconnected. Researchers are starting to see how good digestive health is directly related to good brain health, and how healthy fats are related to both.
Omega-3s are one of the strongest anti-inflammatory fatty acids available to the human body, and they are also ones readily available in many of our foods, especially wild caught fish. New research is showing what you put in your body directly affects mental/emotional disorders, and if you eat a healthy diet, including the varieties of fat your body needs, your gut can begin to heal and the brain begins to function better.
More good news on top of that– as your gut heals and your body receives the nutrition it needs your energy can come up with more energy and an enhanced ability to focus. Sharper concentration equals increased learning and retention.
Want to learn more about the research on gut health and brain health, then check out Dr. Perlmutter’s book, it’s full of up-to-date information on the brain and your gut.
There are a wide variety of healthy fats out there, so a complete listing would be an entirely different post. There are many ways to add them into your daily diet. The goal to remember when it comes to high fat foods is to do it mindfully and in moderation. Eating steak deep fried in coconut oil and avocados everyday for every meal would leave you without vital nutrients. Get my drift?
Ensuring your brain has enough of the nutrients and fatty acids needed to function at optimal performance is going to be different for each individual. However, one thing is for sure, your brain is over 60% fat, and needs high quality fats to function. Just like your muscles need protein to rebuild, your brain needs fat to stay working at peak performance. Introducing healthy fats into your diet is a great way to ensure you’ll keep your brain and memory sharp for whatever adventure you may pursue.
And, as a way to help get you started with adding some good fats into your diet, here is a great article from the Huffington Post about six high fat foods you should be eating, and ways to get them into your diet so you can experience all the great benefits listed above.
Already have delicious high fat good foods in your diet? What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate them into your meals?
Do you have a healthy fat lifestyle already? I’d love to hear about it and how it makes you feel.