In the previous blogs about trans fats, we have told you about the bad things these can do to your heart and your brain. But what else besides avoiding trans fats in processed and restaurant foods might you do to ameliorate the ill effects of trans fats on your vital organs?
A recent study in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology gave us a glimpse. The study tested the blood of 100 people whose average age was 87, and conducted MRI brain scans on 42 of them. The blood was analyzed for 30 different biomarkers and the subjects were tested for memory and cognitive function.
The study consistently found that those with healthier brains had higher levels of certain vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3s. The study’s author, Gene L. Bowman, assistant professor of neurology at the Layton Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Center, Oregon Health & Science University, told WebMD, “The combination of the B vitamins, the antioxidants C and E, plus vitamin D was the most favorable combination of nutrients in the blood for healthy brain aging in our population."
Omega-3s, though they weren’t linked to larger brains, were linked to better cognitive functions such as attention, and visual and spatial skills.
So, what to do?
Eat more fruits and veggies, 4-5 cups a day. Nearly all fruits and vegetables contain significant amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Eat fish with high omega-3 content (fatty fish), such as wild-caught salmon (better than farm-raised) and herring, several times per week. Omega-3s lower inflammation, inhibit arthritis, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol and fight aging.
Balance the omega-3s and omega-6s in your diet. Americans eat far too many foods with high amounts of omega-6s, which causes a negative cascading effect on health. Such foods include nearly everything fried commercially – chicken, French fries, doughnuts, etc. Commercial frying uses refined vegetable oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower and the most commonly used, soybean oil), all of which are huge sources of omega-6s. Seeds and nuts, and the oils extracted from them (peanut, sunflower, safflower, canola, etc.) all contain high amounts of omega-6s. And if you didn’t get the message from our earlier blogs about the dangers of trans fats, avoid every kind of processed, packaged and snack foods, including cookies, crackers, pizza dough, chips, fast food and sweets.
Support efforts to limit trans fats in our food. We all have a stake in our personal and public health. In our busy lifestyles, being vigilant about everything we put in our mouths has become a burden. So it makes sense to become active in pushing manufacturers and agencies that are supposedly guarding our health to do a better job. Organizations such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the American Heart Association, and the Organic Consumers Association are in the forefront of the healthy food fight.