Brain Development for Babies

From our time in the womb to our final days, brain health impacts each and every one of us. But do our early years have a greater impact on brain health than our latter years or are all life phases created equal? Let’s find out …

Fatty Acids: MUFA and PUFA
Extra virgin olive oil is mostly made up of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids, or for short PUFA. PUFAs are “Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) of the omega-3 and omega-6 series are of critical importance during early life, and they are known to play an essential role in growth and development. Intakes in pregnancy and early life are thought to affect the quality of growth and neurological and immune function in later life” (1).

There are three main omega-3 fatty acids — alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is mainly found in plant oils, whereas EPA can be found in fish and other seafood. Today, we’ll focus on the ALA in extra virgin olive oil as the benefits can be lifelong!

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends you include these healthy fats in your diet due to their various health benefits. PUFAs are specifically recommended for brain health! PUSFs deliver essential fats your body can’t produce on its own, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, making EVOO a great addition to your daily diet!

When Should I Start?
NOW! Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is an important addition to any diet, and this is particularly true for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As a 2014 article from the Nutrition and Metabolism conveys, PUFAs are “[of] critical importance during early life. Intakes in pregnancy and early life are thought to affect the quality of growth and immune and neurological function in later life” (1). According to the research, breastfeeding is the best choice for infants. Women should be getting ≥ 200 mg DHA/day through diet to achieve a human milk DHA content of ∼ 0.3% fatty acids, since breast milk contains DHA. Your body can convert small amounts of ALA into EPA and DHA. So, it is important to get DHA from foods to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Taking small steps today to implement extra virgin olive oil into your diet and lifestyle can help keep yourself and little ones healthy now and in the future.

Why Olivaio?
Olivaio is an olive oil subscription box that provides you and your family with the highest quality organic extra virgin olive oil. It’s shipped directly from the source in Tuscany, Italy! This brand is focused on promoting health and wellness to essentially allow you to create a happier and healthier lifestyle.

A Recipe for You
A personal favorite (and simple) way to add extra virgin olive oil to your daily diet is with Avocado Toast. It works great for breakfast or a late-night snack and it’s ready in minutes — perfect for busy days! There are also lots of health benefits. First, toast your favorite bread (mine is sourdough). Then, mash the avocado in a bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Once the bread’s done toasting, spread a heaping scoop of the avocado mix all over the toast and top it with an over-easy egg. Season it with some pink Himalayan salt and pepper, if you’d like. In addition to being delicious, this dish is packed with healthy fats which will keep you full and energized. It’s a great way to start the day!

Written by Mridini Chandrasekaran
Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.