The foundation of a brain healthy diet is eating plenty of healthy fats. These fats help to control blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation, and keep you satisfied between meals. While some fats, such as processed meats and processed oils should be limited, diets high in healthy sources of fat and protein have been found to decrease the risk for dementia.
Types of Fat
Fat comes from both plant and animal sources. Depending on the chemical structure, fat is classified as either a saturated or an unsaturated fat.
As a general rule, unsaturated fats come from plant sources — nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil, and avocados. The exception to this rule is seafood, which is a great source of unsaturated fat. These are the types of fat that provide the most health benefits and may reduce risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Keep in mind, however, not all unsaturated fats are created equal. Some provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, while others provide potentially pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. As you are choosing your healthy fats, focus on those that provide plenty of omega-3s such as:
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Olives and olive oil
- Small, cold-water fish (herring, mackerel, sardines) and salmon, cod, halibut and other low-mercury fish
- Walnuts and other nuts
- Flax, chia, and other seeds
Additionally, limit the high omega-6 fats:
- Processed vegetable and seed oils — sunflower, corn, soybean, and cottonseed oil
- Packaged and highly processed products that contain highly processed oils
Saturated fats are found primarily in animal products like meat and dairy products, as well as in tropical oils like coconut and palm oils. While consuming primarily omega-3-rich unsaturated fats are best for your brain, occasionally consuming good quality saturated-fats will provide you with important fuel and nutrients you need. Focus on:
- Plain, full-fat yogurt and kefir
- Unsweetened coconut products and coconut oil
- Animal fats, such as butter and ghee, from grass-fed animals
- Grass-fed beef, up to once per week
- Sweetened dairy products
- Conventionally raised beef and other dairy products
Incorporating Healthy Fats
As fat is so important for brain health, consume fat with each meal and snack. Enjoy eggs topped with avocado or oatmeal with flaxseed and coconut oil for breakfast, nuts and seeds for snack, and ample amounts of olives, olive oil, avocados, and fish with lunch and dinner. When cooking, primarily use olive oil or avocado oil and save coconut oil, butter or ghee when you are looking for a little more flavor.
Your brain health is one of the most important aspects of your life. If you’d like to understand more about your genetics and how they may affect you, ADx Health recommends speaking to a medical professional about taking a genetic test. ADx Health offers GenoRisk, a comprehensive report that gives you information about your genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease and actionable lifestyle interventions to reduce your risk. Coming in 2022. If you want to learn more, contact us today.