Your brain weighs about three pounds; most of that weight is water and fat. The composition of fats in your diet influences the composition of fats in your brain. Many years ago it was believed that brain fats were like furniture; they were the structures that supported the important things in the brain. Today, we appreciate that fats play an active role in mental functioning and that optimization of dietary fats can improve brain function and also attenuate the effects of mental disorders, such as depression or dementia. I have written about some of the benefits of specific fatty acids in previous blogs.
Some fats, especially the saturated fats found in meat, are detrimental to brain function (Diabetes, vol 61, July, 2012). This is why in my last blog I stated that you should avoid almost anything from a cow. Apparently, following this advice has negative political consequences. We’ve all seen the recommended dietary pyramids and optimal dinner plates publicized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which recommends consuming meat and dairy products every day. However, following sound environmental and health reasoning the USDA headquarters staff was encouraged to consider not eating meat once per week. The program was named “meatless Monday” and was promoted as a simple and effective way to minimize the negative inpact of saturated fats on health and reduce, if only slightly, the environmental impact of greenhouse gases produced by 1.6 billion cows.