A healthy brain is made of healthy fats!

A healthy brain is key to making healthy choices.  The brain needs good blood flow, and inflammation can decrease blood flow and increase the risk of disease, including memory loss and dementia.  Diet plays a key role in reducing or increasing inflammation.

Healthy fats build healthy brains.  Our brains are 60% fat.  Bad fats increase “brainflammation,” and good fats decrease “brainflammation”.  Inflammatory fats cause plaque to be formed in our arteries, decreasing blood flow to the brain.  Plaque can also form in the brain as a result of inflammation.  This can set the stage for memory loss, anxiety, depression, ADD, etc.

Many studies show the benefit of a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, including a decreased risk of dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss.  Those with ADD and depression are often found to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  Conversely, diets rich in these healthy fats tend to improve mood and emotional well being.

Eating one or two servings of wild-caught fish per week can help improve your omega-3 levels.  Farm-raised fish contain less omega-3 fats than wild-caught.  You might also consider taking a fish oil supplement that is certified mercury free.

Other sources of foods rich in omega-3 fats include flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, chia and hemp seeds, egg yolks (from pastured chickens), avocados, spinach, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and organic edamame (soybeans).  Add a handful of raw nuts and seeds to your daily diet, and eat two or more servings of vegetables at each meal.

The worst inflammatory fats are man-made fats known as “trans-fats”.  These include “hydrogenated” and partially-hydrogenated” oils, margarine, shortening, and even refined vegetable oils that have been overly processed.  These are the kinds of fats found in most packaged foods and used in fast-food restaurants.  Always read the ingredients, because a product can contain up to half a gram of trans-fat and legally claim to have no trans-fat.  It all adds up!

Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation.  The American diet is loaded with omega-6 foods.  Corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil all contain omega-6 fatty acids and are found in most packaged foods like chips, crackers, baked goods, and frozen foods.  Animal protein also contains omega-6 fats.  Eat twice as many vegetables as meat to help reduce inflammation.  Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

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Focus on learning with healthy fats!

Besides water, our brains are composed of mostly fat.  They need both to properly transmit signals.  When these signals are weak, it becomes more difficult to concentrate, remember things, and to control moods.

Omega-3 fats play an important role in allowing brain cells to transmit signals.  They also help the body to release serotonin, which can improve moods and relieve depression.

Children’s brains need omega-3 fats to help them stay calm and focused in the classroom.

Wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are excellent sources of healthy fats.  Avoid farm-raised fish.  If you choose to take a fish oil supplement, buy one that’s certified mercury free.  I buy Sunshine Heroes Omega-3 with DHA to give to my grandkids.

Avocados contain omega-3 fats.  Serve slices with eggs for breakfast, or send some guacamole in your child’s lunch.  By the way, omega-3s are in the yolks of eggs, so if you’re just eating egg whites, you are throwing away “brain food”.

Nuts and seeds are easy and convenient sources of omega-3 fats, especially walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds.  Create your own trail mixes for school lunch boxes.  I fill a shaker bottle with raw hemp seeds to sprinkle on waffles, pancakes, peanut butter toast, oatmeal, etc.  My grandkids love them and call them “sprinkles”.

Flax Pancake (one serving):

1 egg (from pasture-raised chickens)

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 tablespoon unsweetened full-fat yogurt (with live probiotics)

1/2 teaspoon unsweetened almond extract (or vanilla)

a dash of mineral-rich salt (optional)

Whisk ingredients together and cook in a little unsalted organic butter, ghee, or coconut oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side.  Top with some pure maple syrup, hemp seeds, walnuts, berries, yogurt, applesauce, almond butter, cinnamon, etc.

Note:  You can substitute the yogurt with applesauce or plant milk (hemp, oat, almond, etc.).  It can be a little tricky to flip, so check for doneness on one side before you turn it.  Also, slide the spatula fully under the pancake and turn it quickly.

Variation:  Use 2 eggs and an additional tablespoon each of ground flax seed and yogurt.

Everyone needs omega-3 essential fatty acids, not just kids!  I often take a flax oil supplement, which is an incredibly rich source of omega-3s and has also been shown to help balance hormones.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

1 Corinthians 10:31–                                                                                                               “Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com (Download your free 10-page guide:  10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You!)

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.