If you have been avoiding fatty foods because you think eating fat makes you get fat, it’s time to look at three fatty foods that can actually help you lose weight. In addition, each gives a powerful boost to the brain, which is 60 percent fat and needs constant replenishment to work well. Not surprisingly, each of these foods is naturally occurring and has been either very minimally processed or not processed at all.
Coconut oil – is nature’s richest source of medium-chain fatty acids that lead to weight loss. Most plant based fats are made up of long chain fatty acids, which are typically stored in the body as fat. On the other hand, medium chain triglycerides are transported directly to the liver, to promote thermogenesis (the production of heat), which increases body metabolism and spurs weight loss.
Coconut oil is a great source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Scientists at the University of Nebraska have found that mice fed a diet rich in coconut oil were more trim and fit than mice fed a diet high in soybean oil, due to coconut oil’s high levels of CLA.
The fatty acids in coconut oil are turned into ketones, which can supply energy for the brain. Researchers are now studying ketones as an alternative energy source for malfunctioning cells that lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Extra virgin coconut oil is fully saturated oil, making it the perfect oil to use in high heat cooking and even frying. Use it for everything from popping corn to making a morning smoothie.
Butter – is chocked full of CLA too, and has been shown to inhibit the body’s mechanism for storing fat. Eating butter results in the body’s utilization of fatty reserves for energy rather than for creating obesity. The association between intake from 21 food and beverage groups and the subsequent 5-year difference in waist circumference was studied by scientists in Denmark. Their population consisted 22,570 women, and 20,126 men with baseline and follow up waist circumference measurement, baseline diet and body mass index. They found that those who consumed butter tended to maintain or reduce their waist measurement, compared to those who did not consume butter.
CLA has been shown to inhibit lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat in the blood so that fat cell uptake, or body fat accumulation, can occur. This inhibition results in reduced fat deposits. CLA also increases the breakdown of fatty acids stored in the body’s fat cells so they can then be returned to the blood stream to be used as an energy source for muscle cells, meaning simply that CLA directs the body to use fat reserves for energy.
Medium chain fatty acids have become a favorite energy source for many athletes who require a quick source of energy. Unlike carbohydrates which may cause a rapid increase in insulin production, resulting in weight gain and other health problems, medium chain fatty acids do not cause weight gain because of their ability to stimulate thermogenesis.
What about the brain? Butter is loaded with vitamin A, a potent signaling molecule. A recent review of studies noted that retinoid acid, a metabolite of vitamin A, modulates production of neurons and neuron survival, as well as synaptic plasticity. Vitamin A improves learning and memory, and can ameliorate the cognitive decline associated with normal aging.
Like coconut oil, butter is saturated and stable, so it can be used at high temperatures as well as eaten cold right out of the fridge.
Nuts – nuts contain lots of fat, and many people still operate under the belief that fat makes you fat, so nuts are often ignored. But research does not support this conclusion. The Nurses’ Health Studies are among the largest and longest running investigations of factors that influence women’s health. One of the findings was that frequent nut consumers were actually thinner on average than those who almost never consumed nuts, and that adding daily supplements of nuts for six months resulted in no increase in body weight. This results in an overall lessening of food consumption and craving. This study was supported by findings from the Adventist Health Study, and a more recent study conducted in Spain. Nuts apparently satisfy hunger and provide a wealth of nutrients, creating a feeling of satiety and comfort.
Nuts are nutrient packed, providing a good amount of magnesium, boron, zinc, and antioxidant manganese, all so essential for bone and brain health. All nuts are a good source of antioxidant vitamin E, folic acid, copper, and the amino acid arginine, which is a precursor of human growth hormone, the hormone that keeps our brain and body looking and feeling young. Some nuts contain tryptophan, a stimulator of serotonin in the brain that alleviates depression and boosts feelings of relaxation.
High vitamin E stands in the way of cognitive decline from aging. In an animal study, diets containing walnuts reduced degenerative protein deposits in the brain and promoted the brain’s natural waste removal process. In other animal research, almonds improved memory, and caused a decrease in levels of an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that increases attention and awareness. If levels of acetylcholine levels are low in the brain, the result can be plaque formation, dementia or Alzheimer’s. Cashews, peanuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts have plenty of brain benefits too, so be to eat a handful everyday and choose from a variety of nuts.