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Trans Fats: Bad For Your Brain

Trans fats affect brain function, decreasing memory and increasing inflammation.

Trans Fats and Your Brain Health

Recently, the Obama administration pledged to phase trans fats out of the American food supply over the next three years. This is great news, because trans fats adversely affect your brain health.

Man-made trans fats do not behave as natural fats do in the body. Trans fats can lead to serious health complications including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, low birth rate, obesity and immune dysfunction. They also have serious consequences on brain health. Trans fats are commonly found in processed foods, fried foods, store-bought salad dressings, pie crusts, muffins, chips, baked goods and more.

used with permission from Pixabay
Source: used with permission from Pixabay

How Trans Fats Affect Your Brain

Our brains rely on natural fats to create and maintain cell membranes and carry fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. But trans fats can cause cellular destruction, wreak havoc on hormone production, adversely affect memory and increase inflammation in the brain. Inflammation in the brain can inhibit the body’s production of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3's are essential to brain function.

Our brains need natural fats to function properly. But trans fats do more harm than good.

Studies have shown that high levels of trans fats may reduce serotonin production in the brain, leading to depression as well as adversely affecting memory.

Fats That Are Good For You and Your Brain:

  • Monounsaturated Fats: These fats can be found in olive oil, sesame oil, peanut butter, nuts, seeds and avocados. Consumption can lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. Inversely to trans fats, monounsaturated fats lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol while maintaining your levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 3 is found in nuts and seeds, grass-fed animal meat and free range chicken eggs. Omega 6 is found in flaxseed, chia, green leaves, walnuts, many fish oils, grass-fed animal meats, oysters, and shrimp. Essential fatty acids assist with brain and nerve tissue development, reduce inflammation, regulate mood and strengthen the immune system. It is important to ensure that you are getting EFA’s in your diet, as your body cannot produce them by itself.
  • Natural Saturated Fats: These include coconut and palm oils, egg yolks, butter, and cream. Natural saturated fats have been incorrectly blamed for many health problems caused by unnatural saturated fats, or trans fats. Healthy saturated fats strengthen the cells in your brain, and it is important to get some saturated fat in your diet every day.

Trans Fats by Any Other Name

Eliminate trans fats from your diet by asking questions, checking labels and avoiding processed and fried foods that you do not prepare yourself. Also avoid foods whose ingredient lists include partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or esterified fats.

Instead, consume healthy natural fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, macadamian nut oil, nuts, and butter which are better for your body and brain health.


  • Know Your Fats by Mary G. Enig Ph.D, 7th printing 2006.
  • Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, revised ed. 2010.
  • The Great Cholesterol Con by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, 2007.
  • The High Blood Pressure Hoax, by Dr. Sherry Rogers, 2005.
  • Put Your Heart in Your Mouth, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, 8th reprint 2013.

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- Dr. Diane®

Copyright © 2015 Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.

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