We are finally off that fat free craze, and into the fat is good phase, but as we love the concept of “if a bit is good, then more is better” we want to redirect that tendency to overdo it! It’s true, nearly 60% of our brain is made of fat. What does that mean for our sugar cravings in the middle of the day? Though we need some sugars, from natural sources, it’s not always so good to stuff ourselves with sugary drinks, white flour, and sweets as they give us that roller coaster experience, and a bit of “brain fog”. If we wait a long time to eat, our sugar drops, and we crave sugar and suddenly feel so much better when we drink that sweet goo, BUT, now we flush our brain with mind numbing sugar, tell our pancreas to produce insulin, and in no time at all, we crash again. A few weeks of that, and we may notice we don’t feel quite right, and that our belly is getting a bit paddy like a cuddly stuffed bear. No need to diet! Restructure your plate.
Eating food containing delicious healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, and yes, even a bit of (not daily) virgin coconut oil (avoid hydrogenated, refined oils) helps our cell membranes, and helps make those good-old-hormones on which we depend to control blood pressure, clotting, and immune responses. Let’s keep to the lighter fats. When it comes to the coconut craze, remember, just because something in small amounts is good, doesn’t mean more is better. One tablespoon of coconut oil has saturated fat, a total of 14g of fat (like butter/mayonnaise/cheese), and most cardiovascular studies tell us that eating too much saturated fat is associated with higher cardiovascular problems, so a bit is o.k., but make sure the rest of the day is not filled with beef, cheese, and fast food! Even though coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (they digest quickly as energy), and healthy fatty acids such as lauric acid which is found in breast milk and strengthens the immune system, and caprylic acid which has antimicrobial properties, too much is too much!
One serving of coconut oil is your saturated fat for the day!!! It’s best, such as in the Mediterranean diet, to keep the fats monounsaturated like those from olives, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Monounsaturated means it is lighter, and that’s why it burns at high heat. Your body loves those good oils, your brain, your nervous system, your skin will notice. These good oils contain essential fatty acids, like omega-3s or omega 3,6,9s from fish such as krill or salmon. Though the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6% of your fats should come from saturated fats, eating more of the good oils is helpful to your brain. If you make sure you eat the good stuff, add some lean protein, high veggie content on your plate, and a tad of starches with high fiber, you will feel much better. Don’t worry about a bit of good expeller pressed oil on your food, it’s more important to avoid processed sugary foods so that you avoid the impending crash and can feel more energized.
So, what does that look like? Instead of grabbing for a sweet roll, grab a handful of unsalted nuts; add some olive oil to your salad instead of sugary creamy dressing; eat a delicious piece of fish with a large side of vegetables; eat fresh coconut or keep it to no more than 1 tablespoon of the oil; have some sunflower seeds; and keep your plate 50% vegetables or more, 25% lean protein; and no more than 25% starches. If you can’t understand the ingredients on the label, run! There are plenty of other choices. Enjoy the good fats, and let your brain have a great day!
Contributed by: Dr. Dani PhD
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