Healthy Oils For Your Brain
As we enter into the new millennium, scientists and other medical professionals have begun to change their minds about the healthfulness of oils. Years ago all anyone could talk about was low-fat diets. But now we’ve begun to understand how essential certain fats are to our physical and mental wellbeing.
You see, the human brain is nearly 60 per cent fat, and fatty acids are thought to be the most essential molecules that determine your brain’s ability to function normally. The regular consumption of fatty acids are required for basic survival, but also for optimal mental health. An imbalance of fatty acids in your brain has been known to impair basic function and cause diseases. Yet balancing your diet in today’s hectic world is tough, so many people have turned to eating oil directly. Sounds strange, right? But you’d be surprised of the amazing benefits.
Now, we’re not suggesting running down to the store and buying an old oil. We’ve reviewed the two most popular and beneficial of oils and will allow you to decide which one works best for you.
Coconut oil contains different types and levels of fatty acids, each with a different length of carbon chain. Coconut oil is made up of roughly 50% lauric acid, 10% capric acid C8 and 10% capid acid C10, all of which are medium chain fatty acids, and also 30% long chain fatty acids. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil don’t necessarily go immediately to clog your arteries in your heart. Instead they go directly to the liver where they are used as an energy source by turning into ketones. When your brain uses ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates, it is thought the number of mitochondria in your brain cells are increased, which means the processes in the hippocampus in your brain, which is in charge of learning and memory, are enhanced. When your brain uses ketones, it is also thought that neuronal stress is reduced by preventing the production of violent molecules called oxidants.
2. MCT oil, also known as medium-chain triglycerides
The benefits of coconut oil described above sound pretty rad, right? Well, since most of the benefits of coconut oil come from the medium chain fatty acids (which is what makes up medium-chain triglycerides), and eating loads of coconut oil every day is a bit annoying (imagine 16 tablespoons of coconut oil every morning) some people have moved towards isolating those medium chain fatty acids and consuming them directly. As we mentioned above, medium-chain fatty acids are fats with between six and twelve strings of carbon and hydrogen.
Now here is where we run into some controversy. According to some experts, lauric acid is not digested as a medium-chain fatty acid, only caproic acid, caprylic acid, and capric acid. If you remember what we said above, 50% of coconut oil is lauric acid, and only 20% are according to some ‘pure’ medium chain fatty acids. So these experts suggest only consuming these three fatty acids, not lauric acid.
But as you can imagine, like many health supplements, cheap versions of MCT oil have popped up recently and tried to benefit from the fatty acid craze. And these MCT oils sometimes contain lauric acid, but other times not. So you’re really going to have to read labels careful and decide for yourself which one you’re interested in taking. Most MCT oils without lauric acid will cost more than coconut oil, so it might end up being more of a financial decision.