The right kind of oils keep your brain running like a Ferrari

More proof that the advice to eat a low-fat diet is a terrible idea: Your brain depends on including the right kinds of fats in your diet to keep your intellectual abilities up to par  as you age.

Spanish researchers have found that eating a Mediterranean diet and including extra nuts and olive oil is associated with more brain power in older adults.

In the four-year study, 450 people, average 67, were divided into three groups. One group ate a Mediterranean diet with an extra liter of olive oil a week (five tablespoons a day), another group ate the Mediterranean diet along with 15 grams of walnuts (about 1/8th cup) and 15 grams of mixed hazelnuts and almonds every day, and a third group ate a low-fat diet.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that folks eating low-fat meals had low-score results on tests of brainpower. But the people eating the Mediterranean diet with nuts had improved their memories significantly. And the group consuming extra olive oil had better executive function of the brain (reasoning and problem-solving ability).

“Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counter-act age-related cognitive decline,” conclude the researchers. “The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions.”

So if you’re still buying products at the supermarket marked “low-fat” because mainstream medicine has convinced us it’s the path to better health, this is more evidence that the danger is not fat. It’s the over-processed vegetable oils like cottonseed oil, corn oil and peanut oil that endanger health.

Instead, you should be consuming extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, fish and nuts to supply your brain with the fats that keep it operational.

Your brain is about 60 percent fat. Research has shown that “fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform.” Don’t let your brain shrivel because you’ve fallen victim to the low-fat myth.

One nut that has a tremendous amount of beneficial healthy oils is the pistachio nut. These nuts have a bit less total fat, but much more protein than other nuts. Plus, they have more than 3 times the vitamin B6 of other nuts. Vitamin B6 helps you make serotonin and norepinephrine, two of the feel-good chemicals that help your brain and nerve cells communicate with each other, giving your brain a huge boost.


Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.