Healthy Fats for Your Brain

Your brain is almost 60% fat, and it needs fat to function properly.  What’s important is to make sure you’re getting the right types of fat, especially essential fatty acids (EFAs), which your body cannot make, and  that you must get from the food you eat.  EFAs come in two groups, linoleic acid (Omega-6) and alpha-linoleic acid (Omega-3).

EFAs, especially Omega-3s, are critical for brain growth and development in babies.  They’re also directly involved in the daily functioning of your brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that allow the transfer of signaling messages between brain cells and also play an important role in learning and memory.

Polyunsaturated fats contain both Omega-3s and Omega-6s.  They can be found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines or nuts like flaxseeds and walnuts.  Monounsaturated fats are another type of healthy fat and come from foods like avocados, olive oil, and most nuts.

It is recommended that you get about 25% of your total daily calories from brain healthy fats.  Some saturated fat, such as that which comes from highly nutritious foods like eggs can be included, but you should completely eliminate trans fats from your diet.  Coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently than most saturated fats which are Long Chain Triglycerides.  MCTs have been shown in some studies to improve brain function.

Along with healthy fats, help your brain keep working at its best by also eating plenty of green leafy vegetables, berries and cherries, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, dark chocolate and cocoa, as well as spices and herbs like turmeric and rosemary.

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