Eating Saturated Fat Could Affect Our Brains

Lab mice fed saturated fat

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A recent study in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience suggests that a eating a diet higher in saturated fat could cause overeating.

Over the course of six weeks, a group of Italian researchers fed laboratory mice diets rich in either fish oil or lard. Lard contains high levels of saturated fat, while fish oil is rich in unsaturated fat. By week five, the researchers noticed that the lard-eating mice had increased levels of a specific enzyme that targeted and inflamed the mice’s hypothalami. The hypothalamus is the part of your brain that curbs eating patterns, so the inflammation may disrupt the brain’s signal to stop eating.

The researchers hypothesized that this enzyme, adenosine monophosphate-dependent kinase (AMPK), acted as a signal to release hormones that regulate body weight, like insulin and leptin. The control and fish oil diet groups, which did not have a rise in the enzyme, had lower body masses than the lard-eating mice after six weeks. Eating a diet lower in saturated fat could prevent the release of AMPK and inflammation of the hypothalamus, therefore lowering obesity rates.

If this is applicable for humans, saturated fats, which are commonly found in fried foods, butter, and fatty meats, could be the reason why you can’t just have one potato chip.