For brain health is it still safe to eat a paleo diet and include saturated fats? Lets take a closer look at this study published in the Journal Archives of Neurology. This study focused on how a high saturated fat/high glycemic diet compares to a low saturated fat/low glycemic diet for brain health function. But don’t be fooled! They only compared two possible scenarios and left out two other possible combinations that would have changed the results. By arranging the study as was done, they missed some very important information about the benefits of saturated fats on the brain.
A beautiful coconut palm tree
They had two groups of participants. One group was given a diet high in saturated fats and high in glycemic foods. The other group ate a diet low in saturated fats and low in glycemic foods. What was left out were two groups: one that ate a diet HIGH in saturated fats and LOW in glycemic foods and one that ate a diet LOW in saturated fat and HIGH in glycemic foods. Their results of those groups would have been very different. It has been shown that saturated fats, especially coconut oil, is highly beneficial for the brain and can in fact reverse Alzheimer’s. What causes brain dysfunction is the consumption of high glycemic foods. These foods also cause insulin resistance which leads to diabetes.
The high-saturated-fat/high-glycemic-index diet included 45% fat (25% saturated fat), 35% to 40% carbohydrates (glycemic index > 70), and 15% to 20% protein. The low-saturated-fat/low-glycemic-index diet included 25% fat (< 7% saturated fat), 55% to 60% carbohydrates (glycemic index < 55), and 15% to 20% protein.
Participants included 20 healthy adults with a mean age of 69.3 years and 29 adults with a MCI and a mean age of 67.6 years. For 4 weeks, 24 participants followed the high-fat diet (9 healthy adults and 15 with aMCI) and 25 followed the low-fat diet (11 healthy adults and 14 with aMCI). Read more….
For brain health we need to be consuming saturated fat on a regular basis. This is easy to do if you are following the Paleo diet. The foods consumed on the diet are: lean to moderately fatty cuts of grass fed beef, chicken lamb and pork. Green vegetables of any kind and fruit in moderation. Depending where you are: obese to relatively fit, you may want to avoid starchy vegetables for a while. But there are plenty of followers eating sweet potatoes and even white potatoes without any ill effects. Some also include some dairy products like butter, cheese and heavy cream. Nuts are also included along with all coconut products. Foods that are avoided? Grains and legumes. Follow the Paleo diet with saturated fats and your brain will undoubtedly stay razor sharp.