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Brain Impairment & Saturated Fats

Our word of the day is…satiation, meaning “satisfaction.” In the world of food, one of the ways we achieve satiation, is by eating fats. Fats help us feel full after a meal, and stay feeling full, since they take longer to break down in our bodies than, say, salad. Think roasted turkey and stuffing. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Meatloaf and gravy. Satiation sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

But, satiation aside, fats can work against us just as much as they can work for us. It all depends whether we’re eating good fats or bad fats.

What’s the Difference?

The simplest way to differentiate between the two is to say that good fats are fats our bodies can break down and use (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), and bad fats are fats our bodies can’t break down and use (saturated).

What Do Our Bodies Use Fats For?

Fats do several important things that we definitely need. They:

  • Help deliver and digest fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) to where we need them.
  • Regulate body temperature.
  • Become cell membranes all through our bodies.
  • Become 60% of our brain tissue.
  • Regulate blood pressure, lipid profiles, blood clotting, immune response, etc.

Look at all that hard work fats do. Clearly another ladle of gravy is vital to my health. I’m excited! Would you pass me the…

Not so Fast!

A professor at the University of Montreal recently completed a study on this very thing. Her question was, if rats were fed calorically identical diets, where the only difference was the types of fat they ingested, what would the effects on the rats’ health be? 

The rats were divided into three groups, as follows:

  • Group one ate a low-fat diet where the fat came from equal parts monounsaturated and saturated fats.
  • Group two ate a high-fat diet—50% of their caloric intake came from fat—where all the fats was monounsaturated (olive oil).
  • Group three at a high-fat diet—again, 50% of their caloric intake was from fat—where all the fat was saturated (palm oil).

Eight weeks later, the rats were tested. The results? The rats who had eaten the high saturated fat diet has significantly blunted dopamine function. As one of the authors of the study explained, “…this leads the brain to try to compensate by heightening reward-seeking behaviour, much like the phenomenon of drug tolerance where one has to increase the drug dose over time to get the same high.” The rats’ brains were primed to seek out more and more high-satiation foods simply by eating a high saturated fat diet.

A similar study was done tracking the fat-eating habits of 6,000 American woman over a four-year time span. The results were the same. The women who ate diets that were the highest in saturated fats had the worst brain and memory function. And the women who ate the most monounsaturated fats had the best brain and memory function.

Translation Please…

Does all this mean that we humans can’t eat any saturated fats? No. The general guideline is that saturated fats should make up no more than 7% of your daily caloric intake (that’s 140 calories or less for those shooting for 2,000 calories per day). The rest of your fat intake should be good fats.

Here at Old Town Olive we are proud to make the best olive oil we can get our hands on available to the public. Our oils are a delicious way to achieve satiation at the same time you’re giving your body and brain what they need to thrive.

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