You can keep your brain running smoothly with the right kinds of fats or you can gum up the works with too much of the wrong kind. It all depends upon what you eat. Sound fishy?
As a matter of fact, it is. The essential fats found in seafood, called omega-3 fatty acids, play a major role in brain function. They may even boost your mood. You need them but you can't make them on your own as these fatty acids appear only through diet. That means next time you are feeling blue, dip into the deep blue sea for your dinner and according the latest medical researches 'the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (DHA and EPA) can help drive away depression. Another research group from England noticed depressed people had less omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells than healthy people. The more severe the depression, the less omega-3.
Some researchers suggest that fish fights depression because neurotransmitters, the brain's riders that carry messages from cell to cell, have an easier time wriggling through fat membranes made of fluid omega-3 than any other kind of fat. This means your brain's important messages get delivered. Fish also has an effect on serotonin levels, one of your brain's good news messengers. If you don't have enough serotonin, you are more likely to be depressed. If you have low levels of DHA, you also have low levels of serotonin and vice-versa.
Whether you are depressed or not, work more omega-3 into your diet and perhaps cut down on omega-6, another type of essential fatty acid found in vegetable oils, meat, milk and eggs.
Eating fewer fruits, vegetables, and fish and more grain, farm raised meat, and processed foods, puts the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio out of whack. Not that omega-6 is bad, but too much leads to excess signalling in your brain but fortunately, omega-3 can help stop the crazy antics of omega-6 and bring things back to normal. So, to fix your balance of omega-6 and omega-3, the obvious first step is to eat more fish.
Fatty fish, like salmon, herring, mackerel and tuna, offer the most omega-3, but all seafood contains at least some. But if you are a complete landlubber who can't stand fish, get some omega-3s from flaxseed, walnuts, and collard, turnip and mustard greens. Other good sources include dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale certain types of lettuce, etc. Just as important to your fatty acid balance are the things not to eat like all deep fried foods and margarine and salad dressings that contain a huge serving of corn or soybean oil. Canola oil which has a more favourable ratio of omega-6 or omega-3 or olive oil, monounsaturated oil with the least amount of omega-6 can do wonders for your essential fatty acid balance.
It all boils down to this — what type of fat you eat determines how your brain works. Moreover your food determines your mood. Just by getting more omega-3 and less omega-6 into your diet, you can put your brain and your spirits in high gear and that's no fishy story.