In the bid for optimum health and vitality, the inclusion of dietary fats is often over-looked.
However, when it comes to maintaining good health as we age, including adequate amounts of the right kinds of fats and oils is vital.
Good fats provide the body with fuel alongside the feeling of fullness and can actually stimulate fat burning.
Studies continue to show the value in supplementing our diet with additional essential fats to prevent and treat a broad spectrum of diseases.
We’ve finally reached an era where we no longer fear fats, with more and more people leaving the fat-free products on the shelf and choosing real, whole food sources of fats instead. And thank goodness for that! Fats were created by nature for a purpose; they keep major systems of our body working at optimal levels and contribute to much more than just caloric weight. In fact, because of their caloric heft, healthy fats actually prevent our bodies from being sick, tired, and they prevent metabolic damage. All in all, fats shouldn’t be feared, especially when we consider that our brains are made of 60 percent fat. Healthy fats from the earth can help keep us focused, optimize hormonal functions, prevent and treat mild depression, relieve anxiety, and when eaten in a healthy balanced diet, they help keep us from craving unhealthy foods like sugar and fats foods.
Let’s take a look at five of the most well-loved, healthiest fats that provide incredible amounts of protection and support for our brains …
One of the most popular plant-based fats of all is also one of the healthiest for us; that’s right friends, avocados are a healthy fat to embrace with open arms. Avocados are full of a type of fat known as mono-unsaturated fats (also known as MUFA) that lower the high levels of the hormone cortisol in the body which helps keep stress at bay. MUFAs also optimize the production of serotonin, a hormone that helps prevent and treat a low mood, assists with normal sleep levels, and keeps anxiety at bay naturally. Avocados are also a natural source of poly-unsaturated fats (PUFA) in the form of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3′s help boost brain health by improving the mood, and they have even been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. To add to the mix, avocados contain other beneficial nutrients like vitamin B6, magnesium, and folate (vitamin B9) to help boost brain health even further.
Almonds are also a great source of mono-unsaturated fats, and they have natural amino acids that boost neurotransmitter function. The magnesium and vitamin B6 found in almonds further reduces stress, anxiety, fatigue, and enhances focus. You can enjoy almonds raw, roasted, or enjoy almond butter — whichever you prefer! Try these 15 All-Around Almond recipes to give your taste buds and brain a nutritious punch all in one!
This tropical fruit is no longer seen as just a dessert; it’s now one of the most popular plant-based fats eaten by people all over the world, on different type of diets, and who have different health goals. This comes as no surprise seeing how coconuts are one of nature’s most perfect foods. Though it’s important to choose sustainable sources of coconuts whenever possible, don’t let these fruits’ high fat profile keep you away. Coconuts are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial saturated fats (yes, really!), and also amino acids to build protein in the body. Coconut can improve focus, mood, energy, and even optimize metabolism. Choose between raw coconut meat, unsweetened shreds, coconut butter, coconut flour, fresh or minimally processed coconut milk, and coconut oil if you enjoy it. Here are 13 coconut recipes just perfect for springtime that you can make right now to get the benefits!
Walnuts are the highest source of omega-3 fatty acids from all types of nuts, and you only need a small dose of them each day to get the benefits. Just two or three walnuts is enough to boost your mood, lower your appetite thanks to their high satiety factor, and is enough to give your body a nice dose of vitamin B6 to lower anxiety at the same time. Another unique reason walnuts are so beneficial is because they lower inflammation in the body, including the brain. Because of their anti-inflammatory benefits, they’ve been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and depression. Snack on walnuts raw, implement them into an entree, make walnut butter, or include them in a delicious dessert — the choice is yours!
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The first thing you need to know about coconuts is that they’re not in fact nuts. The word “coconut” is typically used as an umbrella term to describe the entire coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), the seed and the fruit. But botanically, coconuts are classified as drupes, a type of fruit that contains three layers: an outside layer or skin (exocarp), a middle fleshy layer (mesocarp) and a hard inner layer (endocarp) that encloses the seed. The term “drupe” might be a new one, but if you’ve ever had peaches, cherries, almonds or olives, this isn’t your first rodeo.
Fresh coconut meat contains some protein, carbohydrates and fiber but is predominantly made up of fat, and it’s that fat that’s responsible for giving coconuts their bad reputation.
At this point, I try to explain that it’s the type of saturated fat that dictates its health impact. This is not an easy sell; most people have heard over and over again that consuming saturated fat is directly linked to atherosclerosis, heart attack and other significant cardiovascular incidents. The U.S. Department of Agriculture still recommends keeping saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent of total calories to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
But what the USDA will not tell you is that a growing body of research suggests that it may not be saturated fat that’s detrimental. A more likely culprit is all the other junk that hitches a ride with saturated fat. For instance, we are highly unlikely to benefit from eating a diet high in saturated fat sourced from frozen pizza and Oreos, or to improve our health by consuming lots of saturated fat in addition to superfluous amounts of processed carbohydrates and sugars. A diet full of quality, grass-fed meats and coconut fats, on the other hand, can work wonders for your health.
At this point, it should come as no surprise that the fat in coconuts is saturated. In fact, pure, virgin coconut oil contains more than 90 percent saturated fat, the highest amount of any fat. But unlike the saturated fat found in, say, beef or dairy, coconut oil contains a mixture of short- and medium-chain fatty acids (also known as medium-chain triglycerides), namely lauric (about 50 percent of the total), myristic (about 18 percent) and capric (about 6 to 7 percent) acids. It’s this unique composition of fats that sets coconut oil apart from harmful sources of saturated fats, like those Oreos.
Coconut is not just a vehicle for saturated fat. In fact, some refer to it as the “tree of life” because it produces drink, fiber, food, fuel, utensils and musical instruments, among other things. Fortunately, the sheer variety of coconut products makes it easy to incorporate the healthy drupe into your everyday diet. Some examples of coconut products include the following:
Coconut butter is just ground-up coconut meat, and the stuff is delicious. Use it in place of nut butters or for baking.
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