Foods high in saturated fat such as butter and lard affects a part of the brain and makes it struggle to control what you eat. Fatty foods affect the hypothalamus, which helps regulate hunger.
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.
‘Fatty foods that are high in saturated fats reduce cognitive function, which makes it difficult for a person to control eating habits.’
The study found, through tests in rats, that a meal rich in saturated fat, reduces a person's cognitive function that makes it more difficult to control eating habits.
"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," explained Professor Marianna Crispino and Professor Maria Pina Mollica from the University of Naples Federico II.
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.
Consuming fish oil instead of lard makes a significant difference. The research shows that brain function remains normal and manages to restrain from eating more than necessary.
"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 of the type of fat consumed with the diet may reduce the risk of obesity and prevent several metabolic diseases", concludes Professor Crispino.
The study is published in the Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience