Healthy Fats

Posted November 28th, 2013 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Fats, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Fat is essential for the proper function of the body, it is an integral part of every cell membrane, regulates the immune system, reduces inflammation, and vitamins A, C, E, and K require fat to be properly absorbed in the body. Deficiencies in these vitamins are linked to malabsorption, bone density issues, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome. Here’s a brief overview of the different fats, and healthy food sources.

Essential fats – omega-3 and omega-6 – These fats are not produced by the human body and must be acquired from the diet. They promote cardiovascular health, keep cell membranes fluid, lubricate joints and skin, boost metabolism, nourish the nervous and immune systems and help keep hormones in balance.

Food sources: mechanically cold-pressed chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed oils, algae, fish, krill and walnut oils; almond, black currant seed, borage seed, evening primrose seed, pumpkin seed, safflower seed, sesame seed and sunflower seed oils. Once you open the bottle, they need to be consumed rapidly – store in refrigerator.

Monounsaturated fats – important for the healthy function of the brain and all cell-membranes, and reducing reduce inflammation. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Food sources: avocados, cold-pressed avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grape seed oils, nut oils.

Saturated fats – make up 50% of your body’s cell membranes, bones require saturated fat to properly assimilate calcium, your lungs and heart use saturated fat for nourishment and proper function.  Additionally, saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristeric acid and lauric acid), play a large role in immune health.

The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in saturated fats deprives the brain of the building blocks it needs for proper repair and function. Saturated fats are also needed for nerve communication; they function directly as signaling messengers and influence the metabolism.

Food sources: Organic butter and ghee (clarified butter), cheese, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and poultry, coconut oil and palm oil.

Cholesterol – 1/5th of the brain’s weight is cholesterol, it makes up much of the myelin sheath, facilitates brain communication and function, is a powerful brain antioxidant and is a precursor to steroid hormones and Vitamin D.

Food sources: Grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and eggs.

Fats to avoid – Refined, processed, chemically extracted, bleached, damaged, and hydrogenated oils are toxic to every cell of the body. Margarine and processed or genetically modified products such as vegetable oil, cottonseed oil soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and any hydrogenated oils should always be avoided. These fats are anti-nutritive, denatured, highly processed, pesticide and solvent laden, rancid, and refined. Of course, we all now know about the dangers of trans fats so avoid all fats that have hydrogenation listed on the label. NO AMOUNT OF TRANS FATS is safe to consume.

Guide to Cooking with Fat

As a rule of thumb, if the predominant classification of an oil or fat is polyunsaturated, then we should never cook with it – regardless of its smoke point. Lipid oxidation and free-radical production quickly takes place when these types of fatty acids are exposed to any degree of heat – even very low heat. This is a big red flag for producing inflammation and irritation within our bodies.

Heat (above 350°F): saturated fats and cholesterol – lard from animal fat, butter, ghee, coconut oil

Low to medium heat (moderately stable oils): extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil. When cooking with these oils, use broth or water to keep the temperature down and stop them from overheating.

Not to be heated (very unstable oils): nut and seed oils (including grape seed oil) , camelina oil – delicious drizzled over salads, fruit, and steamed vegetables topped with some lightly toasted nuts and seeds. They are delicate and easily damaged by heat, light, oxygen, and moisture, so refrigerate in a tightly sealed, opaque bottle. Look for cold-pressed, unrefined versions only.

Additionally, therapeutic oils such as cod liver, fish liver, borage, black currant oil, and evening primrose should NEVER be used for cooking.

Nourishing the Mind

Posted November 17th, 2012 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Depression by Rebecca Lane

Late in October, Rebecca was asked to give a lecture at the Aurora Leisure Centre about Nourishing the Mind. Below is the pdf of the PowerPoint presentation for your information, as well as the key summary points and two brain-friendly recipes for you to try.

The presentation (as a pdf file): Nourishing the Mind Presentation


  • Complex carbohydrates – 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, eat with protein and fibre, green drinks with flax (see recipe below), add black beans or kidney beans to any recipes asking for ground beef and half the meat.
  • Essential fatty acids – fish 2-3 times per week (mercury-free, PCB-free coldwater fish such as Atlantic salmon, cod, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies), nuts and seeds, flax oil – good quality fish oil supplement – use oils for salad dressing, not to be heated.
  • Phospholipids – choline from eggs, organ meat and lecithin, brain booster supplement include phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylserine (PS) and/or choline. DMAE not available for sale in Canada.
  • Amino acids – 2-3 servings of good quality, animal and vegetable protein per day
  • Vitamins and Minerals – 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits per day (heard this before?), multivitamin and mineral supplement with at least 25 mg of B complex, 10 mcg of B12, 100 mcg of folic acid, 200 mg of magnesium, 3 mg of manganese, 10 mg of zinc. (Source: Patrick Holford, New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind)
  • Water – urine should be straw-coloured – about 1 – 1.5 litres/day but varies depending on activity, altitude and heat
  • Keep brain active – learn, create, laugh, move


½ cup papaya juice
1 banana
1 cup frozen berries (blueberries are my favourite)
½ cup grated beet
1 large handful spinach or other greens like kale
1 tsp spirulina (marine algae)
2 tbsp flax
Water to desired consistency

Put all ingredients except flax into blender. Blend until smooth. Add flax and blend to mix. You could also add a scoop of protein powder to make this even more powerful!


2 tsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tbsp spelt flour
1 cup water
2/3 cup diced red pepper
2/3 cup diced yellow pepper
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced butternut squash
1 19oz can chickpeas,
½ cup vegetable broth
1 apple, unpeeled and diced
½ cup raisins (or dates)

In large skillet over medium heat, melt oil and add onions, sauté until soft. Stir in curry powder and sprinkle with 1 tbsp flour. Add water stirring constantly. Add vegetables and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add water as needed. Add chickpeas, apple, raisins and broth. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve over coconut rice.


1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp sea salt

Sauté above ingredients in a large pot with lid for about 5 min, then add the ingredients below:

1 ¾ cups brown basmati rice
15 oz. can coconut milk
2 cups water
½ tsp grated lime zest

Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 15-20 min.

Note on oils: Extra virgin olive oil is a polyunsaturated fat and cannot be heated higher than 350 degrees Fahrenhuit; neither can any of the oils of EFAs. When cooking with heat, use either ghee, butter or coconut oil.