Good news. I’ve been telling you for years now that vegetable oils, such as canola oil, are unstable and far too high in inflammatory omega-6s.
And now researchers say if you followed my advice to drop them from your diet, you may have slashed your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Canola oil is pushed by the mainstream as a healthy oil. But as a Healthier Talk reader, you know the truth. The typical Western diet is loaded up with far too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s.
And canola oil, and its other vegetable oil cousins, fuel inflammation, reduce the conversion of plant-based omega-3s into active forms of the fatty acids and raise your risk for disease.
But researchers have uncovered another reason to avoid canola oil. A shocking animal study revealed the oil increases substances in the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Canola oil could raise risk of Alzheimer’s disease
The scientists worked with a group of mice bred specifically to develop Alzheimer’s later in life, the way some humans do. At six months, the researchers divided the critters into two groups.
Group one ate a normal mouse chow diet. Group two got the same diet, but with one addition. They received two tablespoons of canola oil a day.
Six months later, there were big differences between the groups. Group two, which got the oil, had gained more weight. But that was the least of the issues. Group two’s working memory had deteriorated.
That drop in cognition function went hand in hand with chemical changes in their brains. It turns out levels of a protein that helps prevent clumps of beta-amyloid plaques from forming had plummeted in the canola-eating mice.
And as you probably recall, those clumps are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. So it was no surprise when the researchers found amyloid plaques were smothering the rodent’s neurons.
The researchers suggested doing what I’ve been advising all along. Swapping out the canola oil for extra virgin olive oil instead.
3 easy steps to reduce your Alzheimer’s risk
But dropping the canola oil isn’t the only change you can make to support brain health, and reduce your Alzheimer’s risk. Following are three more easy, brain-friendly changes you can adopt today.
1. Fatty fish:
Those omega-3s I mentioned earlier may be one of the best ways you can protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show these natural anti-inflammatories boost blood flow to the brain.
You can raise your omega-3 levels by eating more wild-caught, fatty fish such as mackerel, tuna and salmon. Cod liver oil is packed with omega-3s too. And good sources of the plant-based omega-3 ALA—which your body can convert to active omega-3s—are walnuts, flaxseed and chia seed.
Fruit is healthy to begin with. But it turns out berries may be particularly suited to fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
Berries are rich in brain-friendly nutrients called polyphenols, including the flavanols anthocyanins and stilbenes. All of which can help improve memory and our ability to learn new things.
Blueberries and strawberries are easy to find, affordable and especially good at protecting cognitive function. So go ahead and add more of them to your diet. Aim for a minimum of two servings of berries per week.
A recent small, but exciting, study found grapes might be able to help protect us against Alzheimer’s disease.
The study volunteers, who were already in the early stages of cognitive decline, were divided into two groups. Twice a day for six months group one took a placebo powder while group two got the real deal grape powder (equivalent to about 2.25 cups of fresh grapes).
The volunteers who received a placebo had significant declines in the areas of the brain which Alzheimer’s disease targets. But the brains of the lucky folks who received the real deal grape powder didn’t just stay healthy. The researchers reported there were also improvements in brain metabolism. And that translated into boosts in cognition and working memory.
Protect your brain and reduce your Alzheimer’s risk by making these simple tweaks to your diet starting today.