The fat causes inflammation that impedes the brain to control the food intake. In other words, people struggle to control how much they eat, when to stop and what type of food to eat – symptoms seen in obesity, researchers from University of Naples Federico II in Italy said.
The study found, through tests in rats, that a meal rich in saturated fat reduces a person’s cognitive function that make it more difficult to control eating habits.
Consuming fatty foods affects a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate hunger, researchers said.
“These days, great attention is dedicated to the influence of the diet on people’s wellbeing. Although the effects of high fat diet on metabolism have been widely studied, little is known about the effects on the brain,” said Maria Pina Mollica and Marianna Crispino from University of Naples.
A diet rich in fat can take different forms and in fact, there are different types of fats. Saturated fats are found in lard, butter or fried food. Unsaturated fats are rich in food such as fish, avocado or olive oil, researchers said.
Consuming fish oil instead of lard makes a significant difference.
The study shows that brain function remains normal and manages to restrain from eating more than necessary, they said.
“The difference was very clear and we were amazed to establish the impact of a fatty diet onto the brain. Our results suggest that being more aware about the type of fat consumed with the diet may reduce the risk of obesity and prevent several metabolic diseases,” said Crispino.
The findings were published in the journal Frontiers In Cellular Neuroscience.
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