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Healthy Oils for a Healthy Brain

Healthy Oils for a Healthy Brain

Who says fat has to be a bad thing? Fat makes up more than half of the brain’s weight, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD -- and a diet with the right amount of healthy fats is essential to brain health. Oils, which are simply fats in liquid form, can be a great way to get the healthy fats your brain craves.

Some oils are healthier than others and not all deliver the same nutrients. Here are three oils that may keep your brain running smoothly.

Rice Bran Oil
Preliminary research suggests that a particular type of vitamin E, called alpha tocotrienols, found in rice bran oil may have brain-protective powers. Rice bran comes from the husk of the rice kernel, and oil made from this bran is popular for stir-fries because it doesn’t burn easily. You can find rice bran oil in many grocery stores, Asian markets and on Amazon.com.

Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is gaining popularity for everything from cooking to skin care. While it’s about 90 percent saturated fat, which is bad for cholesterol levels, getting a moderate amount in your diet (for instance, sautéing your vegetables in coconut oil) may provide some brain benefits. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are found naturally in coconut oil, and studies have suggested that when people with Alzheimer’s disease take MCT supplements, their brain functions improve.

Olive Oil
This is the big one, the oil commonly touted for heart health and stroke prevention -- but olive oil is also great for the brain. A Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil was also found to improve cognitive function in older adults, a 2015 JAMA Internal Medicine study found. Another study found that eating polyunsaturated fats along with olive oil was associated with a decreased risk of developing depression.

Medically reviewed in October 2019.

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