Good fats/bad fats … they aren’t just about keeping your heart running well and the inches off your waistline. Our brains are at least 60 percent fat! So it makes sense that your brain depends on what you eat to get some of the fats it needs to keep sharp and – as with the Vitamin E tocotrienols found in Malaysian Palm Fruit Oil – to help protect delicate cells.
What’s good for your heart is generally good for your brain as well. That’s because the cholesterol that can block pathways to your heart can also block pathways to your brain. Healthy fats – including omega 3 fatty acids – are also linked to better cognition, memory and even improved moods. Unsaturated fats are associated with a lowered risk of Alzheimers Disease and dementia. And research has shown that vitamin E tocotrienols help to protect brain cells in case of stroke while also helping to enhance stroke recovery.
So does this mean that all saturated fats are bad for you? Surprisingly, no. Dr. K.C. Hayes, Professor of Biology (Nutrition) at Brandies University, explains that our bodies need a healthy balance of all the different fatty acids. “Saturated fats have a bad reputation not because they contain saturated fatty acids but because they lack sufficient polyunsaturated fatty acids,” he explains. “With the right balance, saturated fatty acids maintain your HDL (good cholesterol) while polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease your LDL (bad cholesterol). Monounsaturated fatty acids have a neutral effect on cholesterol levels.”
If you have elevated blood cholesterol levels, and want to protect your brain as well as your heart, olive oil is not the answer. “Soybean and canola oils are 40-50 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids and the rest are monounsaturated, with a low level of saturated fatty acids. Olive oil is mostly monounsaturated fatty acids. And since monounsaturated fatty acids are neutral, they won’t cause trouble with your cholesterol but they also can’t get you out of trouble if your body is desperately needing more polyunsaturated fatty acids.”
He elaborates: “If your cholesterol is in the healthy range, consuming olive oil is fine. But if it’s elevated, you’ll want to choose an oil rich in polyunsaturates, or even one of the more liquid fractions of palm fruit oil (i.e. such as pressed red palm oil) which contains a healthy balance of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids as well as antioxidant-rich carotenoids an vitamin E.”
To stay sharp, your brain needs a variety of nutrients including healthy fats. Palm fruit oil can be part of a heart-healthy – and brain-healthy – diet for life.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.