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Can Healthy Fat be Detrimental to the Alzheimer’s Diet?

Posted by on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

 weight control for the Alzheimer's diet

These days, many food experts and nutritionists are raving about healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil as part of a brain healthy Alzheimer’s diet.  The era of the low- fat weight loss diet fad is considered obsolete today.  Recent research indicates that healthy unsaturated fat is necessary for overall heart and brain health, and serves as an important component in a successful weight loss program.  But where do we draw the line when it comes to fat?   Can too much healthy unsaturated fat be detrimental to an Alzheimer’s prevention diet?

To get an idea of just how healthy fats affect overall health, one must understand how fats are digested in the body.  Although unsaturated fats (from plant sources and cold water fish) are no doubt brain healthy nutrients, when consumed in excess, the body breaks down and stores fats as adipose (fat) tissue.

Why Your Body Needs Fat

Fat is an essential macronutrient required to provide and store energy for future use. Healthy fatty acids serve to control inflammation (which is thought to be one of several precursors in the development of AD), aid in coagulation of blood, and support brain health. The brain is one of the fattiest parts of the body, comprised of approximately 60% fat, and it requires healthy fatty acids for proper functioning.   

After approximately 20 minutes into a physical exercise workout, the body shifts from utilizing calories from carbohydrates to burning stored fat in the fat cells.  This is the reason it’s recommended to perform over 20 minutes of cardio during each workout session.

What Happens to Excess Fat?

Fat, protein and carbohydrates are the 3 primary sources of calories we get from food.  Fat has over twice as many calories as carbs or protein.  This is the reason that limiting (but not eliminating) the total grams of fat eaten each day is important to fight weight gain and obesity.  The body stores fat when more calories are ingested than are used up for energy.  Even if you eat all fat free foods, you will not be able to lose excess weight unless you burn more calories than you consume. 

The body utilizes extra reserves of fat by transforming it into energy.  When too many carbohydrates are eaten, these eventually get stored as fat.  Excess protein that is not used for building or repairing tissue, building muscle, bones, cartilage or blood (or other bodily functions) will be converted and stored as fat as well.  So, there’s no getting around it, if you eat too many calories, your body will eventually accumulate excess adipose tissue.           

How Much Fat Should You Eat for Alzheimer’s Prevention?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the daily intake of fats should be between 20 to 35% of the total calories consumed each day.  New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that when a diet of 18 to 40% fat was consumed, there was little effect on the stored body fat.  This study points to evidence that supports the hypothesis that diets high in fat are not the primary reason for excess fat accumulation in the body.   Regardless of this evidence, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an intake of under 10% of calories from saturated fats and limiting (or eliminating) trans-fats, while reducing the overall intake of calories from solid fat sources (such as butter).  Saturated fats (such as those from animal sources) have been found to lead to build up of cholesterol in the arteries and contribute to risk factors for heart disease.   

In Summary

So, even in the case of healthy unsaturated fats, too much of a good thing can be bad for you.  In the end, all macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) have calories, and too many calories translate to stored adipose (fat) tissue.  On the other hand, when it comes to a healthy AD prevention diet, balance is the key.  So, eat healthy fats every day, but limit your portions of fatty foods. 

Learn more about healthy fat intake and the Alzheimer’s diet by CLICKING HERE to view information about the book, “The Alzheimer’s Treatment and Prevention Diet,” written by Harvard trained neurologist,  Dr. Richard Isaacson, M.D.

For more easy to follow nutrition advice check out The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-Step Nutritional Approach to Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment, or visit to learn more about Neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson's 9 week diet plan and his cutting edge approach in the fight against AD in Alzheimer's Treatment | Alzheimer's Prevention: A Patient and Family Guide 2012 Edition. Also, sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates in AD treatment and prevention news.

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