With fad diets each claiming to improve your health and trim our waistline, it can be confusing to determine the best foods for your cognitive health. In recent years there has been a substantial amount of research on dietary patterns and health, including research specifically on cognitive health – and the findings may surprise you.
In a 2017 study of over 135,000 people in 18 countries found that higher fat intake decreased mortality and did not increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, while a high carbohydrate intake was associated with a greater risk of total mortality. When specifically looking at cognition and risk of dementia, a 2012 study found that a high carbohydrate intake increased the risk for dementia, while a diet high in fat and protein decreased the risk.
While it is now widely accepted that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk for a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, a 2013 study found that supplementing a Mediterranean diet with additional olive oil and/or mixed nuts improved cognition when compared to a low-fat diet.
While the effect of saturated fats – fats coming from animal sources such as butter, meats, and dairy products – on cognition and dementia remains unclear, numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of omega-3 fats from fish and unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
So what does this mean for you? The foundation of AFFIRMATIVhealth’s RE:mind diet encourages including one or more source of healthy fat with each meal and snack. Enjoy eggs topped with avocado or oatmeal with flaxseed and coconut oil for breakfast, nuts and seeds for snacks, and ample amounts of olives, olive oil, avocados, and fish with lunch and dinner. When cooking, use primarily olive oil or avocado oil and reach for coconut oil, butter or ghee (clarified butter) when you are looking for a little more flavor.
The research is clear – incorporating plenty of fat into your diet will benefit your brain, so enjoy! For more information about AFFIRMATIVhealth and the RE:mind program, visit www.affirmativhealth.com.