The most important fats for the brain are the omega 3, long chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAS) Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA). They are found mainly in oily, deep sea, cold water fish. Whilst in theory these EFAs can be converted from omega 3 containing oils such as flaxseed, in reality this conversion is very poor. At best only about 1% of flaxseed oil is converted into the essential PUFAS.
Therefore, if you are not consuming at least two portions of fish a week your brain may be in trouble, and here’s why:
These PUFAS form the cells membranes of every cell in the body, including the cells of the brain. PUFAS are long and flexible fatty acids; when the cell membranes are full of PUFAS the cell membranes are flexible and fluid which enables the cell to send and receive messages effectively. In an absence of PUFAS the cell membranes must take up other fatty acids from whatever oils are provided by the diet, including the highly toxic trans fatty acids. With these fatty acids making up the cell membrane the brain and nerve cells cannot function optimally, negatively effecting cognitive functions such as memory, learning and mood.
Not only are DHA and EPA critical cell membrane components, but they are also metabolised into anti-inflammatory and antioxidant metabolites that protect the brain from oxidative stress. By preventing inflammation, and therefore damage, they can help preserve optimal brain power and brain health into the mid and later stages of life.