Fats and the Brain


One of the most used ingredients in food processing and cooking is fat and oil. They are organic compounds like carbohydrates. They are composed of the elements carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O), arranged to form molecules.

Food baking

Many of us can't eat food without being cooked with cooking oil. Fats and oil come from different sources. Some are found in plant seeds like peanuts, sunflower, coconuts, olives and other in fishes, animal products such as meat, cheese, butter and milk. Also, oil and fats can be distinguished from their quality. Vegetable oils for example are highly regarded as purely the safest of all.

Fats and oil play a crucial role in brain health, and prioritizing certain types of dietary fats can positively impact our cognitive well-being. Giving to our bodies, calories and essential fats which enable our bodies to take in vitamins such as D, K, and A of which are fat-soluble.

Fats and the Brain.

When it comes to the most important molecules that the brain needs so that it can function properly, fatty acids take the lead. It's even fascinating that the brain is nearly 60% fat. Chang, C. Y., et al (2009).

Fatty acids play the role of building the brain structure. These molecules act as messengers in the function of the brain neurotransmitter and synthesis of information in the brain. A sufficient intake of dietary fats plays a key role to the brain function and health. 

From cognitive processes to emotions and behavior as well as neuroendocrine functions. Fats also contribute to the synaptic plasticity of the brain which protects it from detrimental effects on neuronal physiology. Chianese, R., et al. (2018)

Here are three key contenders when it comes to healthy fats for the brain:

1. Olive Oil: The Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, has been associated with better brain outcomes. Extra-virgin olive oil contains unsaturated fats and polyphenols that may protect the brain by reducing inflammation. The oil, also influences the gut microbiome, which in turn affects brain health through the gut-brain axis.

2. Omega-3 Fats: These fats, found in plant sources and especially fish, are essential for healthy brain function. They contribute to cell membrane structure and may help prevent brain atrophy and improve memory.

3. Coconut Oil: Emerging research suggests that coconut oil might be worth considering as a dietary fat source. However, more studies are needed to fully understand its effects on brain health. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

On the other hand, trans fats are detrimental to brain health. They can cause cellular damage, disrupt hormone production, impair memory, and increase brain inflammation. Additionally, excessive dietary fat intake may impact mental health and lead to depression-like behaviors.

A balanced approach to fats, emphasizing healthy options, is essential for overall well-being and brain health.


Chang, C. Y., Ke, D. S., & Chen, J. Y. (2009). Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta neurologica Taiwanica, 18(4), 231–241.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source, What Should I Eat? Fats and Cholesterol, Types of Fat. 

Chianese, R., Coccurello, R., Viggiano, A., Scafuro, M., Fiore, M., Coppola, G., Operto, F. F., Fasano, S., Laye, S., Pierantoni, R., & Meccariello, R. (2018). Impact of Dietary Fats on Brain Functions. Current neuropharmacology, 16(7), 1059–1085.

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