Eat Healthy Fats for a Healthy Brain by Allan Warshowsky, MD, FACOG, ABIHM

There has been much controversy about which fats to include in a healthy diet that would help is to avoid or reduce the chances of developing one of the chronic diseases of aging. These would include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, osteoarthritic conditions, autoimmune disease, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is primarily the result of increased brain inflammation. This has been referred to as “the brain on fire.” To maintain our brain health and cognitive abilities, we need to make dietary and other lifestyle choices that will reduce inflammation and put out the fire. Maximizing healthy fats in the diet will optimize brain health.

The fats we find in our food are classified as either synthetic “trans” fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) or the naturally occurring fats and oils in food. These food fats and oils are further categorized as fish oils (deep sea cold water fish), saturated (found in coconut, grass fed/finished red meats, deep sea cold water fish), mono-saturated (olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (soybean, canola, cottonseed, corn and peanut oils) depending on how “flexible” the fat is.

Saturated fats are least flexible and are therefore solid at room temperature, while the polyunsaturated fats, being most flexible, are liquid at room temperature. The solid saturated fats (coconut, ghee, organic butter) are best for cooking because they can withstand higher heat and not “burn” and create free radicals. Mono saturated (olive oil) and nut and seed oils (flaxseed, walnut) are best no used for cooking, but work well on salads and vegetables. The “trans” fats (partially hydrogenated) are inflammatory and need to be 100% out of the diet.

Oils that are high in the inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids and should be avoided for brain health are:

  • soybean
  • canola
  • cottonseed
  • corn
  • sunflower
  • safflower
  • sesame
  • peanut oils

Oils that are high in the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids and need to be included for brain health:

  • fish (Pacific salmon, sardines, mackerel)
  • grass fed/finished red meats and pastured poultry
  • ghee and organic butter
  • flaxssed, walnut, nuts
  • coconut
  • olive

Coconut has the added benefit of providing the brain with its preferred energy source, ketones.

When the brain is inflamed, it cannot utilize its usual energy source, glucose or sugar. Ketones supply brain cells (neurons) with the energy they require to heal. Add 2-4 tablespoons to your food daily. Eating healthy fats for a healthy brain requires that you be aware of which fats and oils are increasing inflammation and which are putting out the fire. Include all of the omega 3 anti-inflammatory fats and oils to maintain a healthy brain.

Click here for our Merlian News Podcast interview with Dr. Warshowsky

Allan Warshowsky, MD is a board certified Ob-Gyn, currently in private practice in Rye, NY, who focuses on Integrative Holistic Women’s healthcare and has expanded his practice to include men and teens. His successful practice therapies range from the conventional to the purely holistic including: nutritional therapy, vitamin and herbal treatments, lifestyle changes, visualization and imagery, as well as bio-identical hormones and other integrative approaches. He has authored various books including Healing Fibroids: A Doctor’s Guide to a Natural Cure. Dr. Warshowsky was a founding physician and director of the Women’s Program at Beth Israel’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing from 2000-2003. He is notably a Founding Diplomat and Director Emeritus of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. For more information, go to, or call 914-967-1630. His offices are located at 150 Purchase Street, Suite 7, Rye, NY 10580.


by Allan Warshowsky, MD, FACOG, ABIHM