Maybe you really can’t eat just one. Packed with saturated fat, those potato chips may truly be overpowering your self control. A diet high in the stuff can make your brain struggle to control what you eat, according to a new Italian study on rats.
Researchers from the University of Naples found that a meal rich in saturated fat reduces a person’s cognitive function, making it more difficult to control eating habits. The fat hits the hypothalamus, part of the brain that helps regulate hunger. It causes inflammation, which messes with the brain’s ability to control food intake, how much you eat, what you eat and when to stop eating.
When the researchers fed the rats meals high in fish oil, rather than saturated fat, the inflammation—and eating patterns—returned to normal.
"The difference was very clear and we were amazed to establish the impact of a fatty diet onto the brain,” study co-author Marianna Crispino said in a university release. “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.” The research was published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.
The new data adds to the growing body of research supporting omega-3 fatty acids, like those in fish oil, as tools to fight obesity. The omegas in the fish oil transform fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells and may help fight middle-age bloat, according to a study that appeared in Scientific Reports earlier this year.