There’s a big misconception in our society that fats are all bad. But the truth is…
Fat is NOT the enemy. In fact, fat is something our bodies need to function and survive.
Getting enough healthy fat is critical for growth and development, especially for our compromised kids.
Here are a few reasons we need healthy fats:
- Fat builds the brain.
- Fat helps with cell signaling and repair.
- Fat produces hormones our bodies need.
- Fat absorbs vitamins that are critical to our health and development.
- Fat produces healthy skin.
- Fat helps maintain our body temperature.
- Fat serves as a source of fuel for our bodies.
- Fat protects vital organs by holding them in place and cushioning them.
As you can see from this list, fat isn’t the problem! Fat can be very beneficial for our bodies and especially for our brains!
There are, however, unhealthy forms of fat. These unhealthy fats are the ones we need to avoid.
The foods we eat – and more specifically, the fats we eat – have a big impact on the health of our brains!
So today, I wanted to share with you some suggestions of what fats to eat, what fats to limit, and what fats to avoid altogether.
3 main categories of fats: unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats.
Unsaturated Fats can be divided into two categories: monounsaturated (like avocados, nuts, olives, and canola oils) and polyunsaturated (like Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids found in seeds, oily fish, nuts, and vegetable oils).
Saturated Fats have been generally simplified to include dairy foods such as butter, cream, full-fat milk, and cheese. They also include meats and palm and coconut oils.
But the reality is a bit more complex. Most foods contain a mix of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat.
Dairy will generally have more saturated fat than unsaturated fat, but meats will generally have more unsaturated fat. And an organic, free to roam animal will have a much better fatty acid profile than a caged or intensively farmed animal.
The third type of fat is trans fat.
Trans Fats are the fats we need to avoid! These are in many packaged and processed foods, as well as fast foods, deep-fried foods, and baked goods.
Another dangerous thing about trans fats is that they are often hidden on food labels with terms such as ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil.’ So you might not even realize you’re eating them unless you’re careful and read labels thoroughly!
So those are the 3 main types of fats: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats.
Here are some healthy fats:
- Oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and sardines (These fish are one of the highest sources of omega 3 fatty acids which help to build membranes around brain cells and improve the structure of brain neurons. They also play a role in brain development and reducing inflammation).
- Eggs (Eggs are a high source of B vitamins – B6, B12, and folic acid, which are known to reduce levels of homocysteine, which is important for thinking clearly. Egg yolk contains high amounts of choline which is essential for the memory-boosting brain chemical called acetylcholine. The saturated fat in eggs helps to boost memory skills and overall brain health.)
- Avocados (Avocados are a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats, helping to lower the risk of brain issues by promoting healthy blood flow throughout the body and brain. Increased blood flow to the brain equals a more functional brain!)
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans (Nuts contain a great amount of unsaturated fats including omega 3’s and 6’s and vitamin E. These help your brain function better. Unsalted, raw nuts are best, and a great snack or salad addition.)
- Seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds (Chia seeds and flax seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The omega 3s work to protect the blood vessels and may reduce inflammation in the brain. They also play a role in brain development. Pumpkin seeds are a high source of zinc, which is vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. They also contain magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, the precursor for serotonin-the happy chemical- in the brain.)
- Olive oil (Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fat, which helps to improve memory and protect the brain. You can easily add olive oil as a salad dressing, or use it as a cooking oil.)
- Dark chocolate-THIS IS MY FAVORITE HEALTHY FAT!! (Dark chocolate is perfect as a treat or dessert. Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, which is essential for brain health. Antioxidants work to reduce oxidative stress in the highly susceptible brain, helping to prevent cognitive decline and brain illnesses. Dark chocolate is also seen to improve brain plasticity, a crucial aspect of children’s learning ability. With chocolate, though, always make sure to choose high-quality chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.)
- Coconut oil, butter, and ghee (Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that is readily used by the body and brain for energy. Butter and ghee contain linoleic acids, which are associated with metabolic health-promoting properties. Ghee may be a good option for some dairy-free or casein-free diets as the milk proteins are removed.)
Fats to LIMIT:
- Industrial seed oils like soybean, canola, and corn oils (Instead, stick with olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee.)
Fats to AVOID:
- Trans Fats like those found in processed/packaged foods and fast foods
Fat is NOT the enemy! It’s actually a critical macronutrient, just like carbohydrates and protein. Our bodies NEED fat to survive.
The problem comes when we eat the wrong kinds of fat.
I know that was a LOT of information!!
But here is the main takeaway: Fat is NOT the enemy! It’s actually a critical macronutrient to our bodies, just like carbohydrates and protein. Our bodies NEED fat to survive.
The problem comes when we eat the wrong kinds of fat. So do your best to avoid trans fat found in processed or fast food and eat more of the good fats.
And as always, I am not a medical doctor and the above post is based on my experience. No information on this site should be relied upon to make a medical diagnosis, treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.