Good fats vs. bad fats. You’re going to be shocked to learn which ones fall into which category, and why! Consuming a diet rich in healthy oils may help your mind function better and support your heart health.   

In their popular new Brainspanners video series on Facebook, functional medicine expert Bryce Wylde teams with holistic nutritionist Andrea Donsky to discuss hot health topics. An episode all about good fats vs. bad fats, including an interview with Nutrition Myth Buster and best-selling author Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, revealed how incorporating the right fats into our diet can support our brain and heart health. 

There’s also something very true about the phrase “clear thinking” because, as Wylde and Donsky discussed, brain fog may result from the buildup of toxins. To help keep your brain clear of toxins, be mindful of which oils you’re consuming and how you’re using them. 

Something as simple as overheating an oil to the point where it starts smoking, Donsky cautioned, can cause it to go rancid. “I love eating and cooking with Malaysian palm oil because it has a very high smoke point,” she continued. “It’s great if you’re stir frying or making eggs.” 

Palm-oil derived vitamin E tocotrienols may also help by helping the liver clear toxins. “If the liver can’t work effectively, it causes toxins to build up. That could lead to brain fog,” explained Wylde, who described how science has shown tocotrienols appear to help protect the livers of adults diagnosed with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, a common liver disorder, possibly triggered by obesity, insulin resistance, lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress. 

Palm oil-derived tocotrienols are also scientifically associated with protecting the brain’s white matter, areas of the brain affecting how well it learns and functions. “Tocotrienols are very potent antioxidants,” he commented. 

Which oils should you avoid? 

Wylde cautioned that we should avoid oils high in polyunsaturated fats such as corn, soy and cottonseed. “These are highly processed oils. They use chemicals to bleach them and remove their smells.” In addition to promoting oxidative stress and inflammation, Wylde said, “These are also high in something called AGES, which stands for Advanced Glycation End Products. AGES have been linked to higher risk of Alzheimer disease. All good reasons to avoid chemically processed oils and stick to the good guys.” 

Added Bowden, “Vegetable oils are such a triumph of marketing over science. They are not from vegetables. They are from corn, soy and other seeds. It’s not Brussels sprouts oil. The fact that they are unsaturated is nothing to get excited about. What we want to know is whether or not they are toxic.”

Taking fear of fat out of the equation   

Bowden said there is no reason to reduce saturated fats and animal products, explaining that healthy fats can be found in grass-fed beef that doesn’t contain antibiotics, steroids or bovine growth hormones. “Who cares about how much fat is in the meat because it’s not a toxic waste dump for all the other stuff! … The difference between bad fats and good fats is not divided by animal or vegetable oils. It’s about whether or not the fat is toxic and damaged.”

All three participants — Wylde, Donsky and Bowden — are big fans of Malaysian sustainable palm oil. “I always specify Malaysian palm oil because I care deeply about animals. There are countries where they have not farmed palm very sustainably. But Malaysia protects their forests more than we do here in the United States,” explained Bowden.

He clicked off several more reasons for liking Malaysian palm oil: 

  • It’s red because it has carotenoids such as beta carotene.
  • It has brain-protective tocotrienols.
  • It is not processed at high heat or with a whole portfolio of toxic chemicals 
  • It does not have to be degummed or deodorized 
  • It does not promote inflammation

Bowden concluded, “We can have non-toxic, anti-inflammatory unsaturated fats such as fish oil; and we can have non-toxic, anti-inflammatory, perfectly healthy saturated fats. Malaysian palm oil is a perfect example of that.” 

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