Every time you turn on the television you see ads about lowering your cholesterol and the dangers of fats in your diet. You go to the grocery and every shelf has a “diet” product or “health” food substitute that is supposed to lower your bad cholesterols and be good for you.

Americans do not eat healthy. The rising incidence of obese people in the country is proof of that. If we all ate a balanced diet and exercised regularly we would not have the weight problems we do today, and the diet market would not be as lucrative as it is.

The idea that all fat is bad for you is a myth. As a matter of fact, you need some fat in your diet in order for your body and your mind to perform well. In addition, if you cut out fat all together you could die! If you have trouble distinguishing between the saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, just remember — saturated fats, like butter, tend to be solid at room temperature (not good for you) and unsaturated fats are usually oils (some are good, like sunflower and safflower oils, and some are not, like corn oils). The monounsaturated fats are considered the healthier of the bunch, and they include olive oil, canola oil and peanut oils. Scientists have found there are no rules when it comes to fats, however, and certain classes of polyunsaturated fats, the omega-3 fatty acids, can have beneficial effects, especially when it comes to cognition and memorization (they are also considered to be heart-healthy).

Brain tissue contains vital nutrients that thrive on fats. Normal nerve-cell function relies on fats in order to function. Diets that are high in saturated fats, however, clog the arteries that send the nutrition to the brain.

Compare the lifespan of people in the middle ages with that of today. Their lifespan was short due to a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat products (plus the fact they did not have prevention for many diseases common today). If they did live to be a ripe old age of 40 their cognitive skills were impaired due to their diet. On the other hand, people who lived closer to the shorelines, and ate a diet that consisted of mostly fish lived longer and had fewer mental problems. People today live a longer life because we are learning more and more about the benefits of certain nutrients in our diet.

A Dutch study, published in the Journal Neurology (2004:62:275-280) concluded that “diet is significantly related to cardiovascular disease, and the development of a variety of neuro-degenerative and dementia disorders.” The study consisted of 1,613 middle-aged men and women reporting their diet intake over a 5-year span. They found that those who consumed a diet high in fish shower fewer decline in memory and cognitive function, while those who ate high cholesterol food had declines in memory, flexibility and reflexes.

Another independent study, conducted on rats with a diet lacking in fish oil, set out to prove that it could cause poor learning and memory skills. When they included a supplement of Omega-3 fatty acid in their diet they demonstrated remarkable improvement in their cognitive skills. The study concluded that certain fatty acids, especially the oils found in cold-water fish, can be used to improve brain function, reduce memory loss, and retard cognitive decline.

We can then conclude that, to not only improve your memory, but function at optimum levels, a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids is important!

Resources:

Life Enhancement: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Cognitive Functions: http://www.life-enhancement.com/article_template.asp?ID=578

Memoryzine.com: Eating fatty fish clears mental fog – http://memoryzine.com/2010/07/22/eating-fatty-fish-clears-mental-fog/

Science Daily: Scientists Learn How Food Effects The Brain — Especially Omega-3 – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080709161922.htm