Monounsaturated Fatty Acids – a class of nutrients found in olive oils, nuts and avocados – support the brain’s attention networks, and also help cognitive health through improved insulin sensitivity.
Your ability to focus on, and solve problems can be influenced by diet choices, according to a study out of University of Illinois. The study of 99 healthy older adults, recruited through Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, compared patterns of fatty acid nutrients found in blood samples, functional MRI data that measured the efficiency of brain networks, and results of a general intelligence test.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, or MUFAs, are found in olives, avocados, a variety of nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias and pecans), and plant-based oils (olive, canola, peanut, and sunflower).
Researchers tracked the MUFA blood serum levels of the study participants, and noted a strong correlation between higher levels of MUFAs and greater general intelligence, which is comprised in part by the dorsal and ventral attention networks:
The dorsal and ventral attention networks refer to a group of cortical regions that support sustained attention and working memory function, both of which are necessary for complex problem solving.
Fighting Off Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
An additional benefit to a diet high in MUFAs is keeping insulin sensitivity in top shape.
Diabetes, and the precursor of insulin resistance are harmful to cognitive health. Having diabetes can double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Interested to know more about healthy food choices?
Download this free guide to the MIND diet, which lists the top foods for better brain health.