Study Gives New Meaning to the Word "Fathead"

Score one for fat: Fatty foods might contain memory enhancers. University of California, Irvine, scientists found that oleic acids from fats—and the compound oleoylethanolamide used in the lab—send signals to the memory-forming amygdala.

(All of my grandmother's recipe cards call for "oleo," short for "oleomargarine," as the butter substitute was originally known. Perhaps that explains my fond memories of her peach dumplings and sugar cookies.) 

One of the scientists offered an evolutionary explanation for the fat/fond memory relationship:

"By helping mammals remember where and when they have eaten a fatty meal, OEA's memory-enhancing activity seems to have been an important evolutionary tool for early humans and other animals. Remembering the location and context of a fatty meal was probably an important survival mechanism for early humans."

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reminds us that there's a lot we still don't know about the moving parts (so to speak) of human biology. The researchers seems to have been originally investigating the compound for its potential in encouraging weight loss. While it's still far too early to tell what the human applications might be—the fats are being tested on rats for now—there's discussion that this might be good news for Alzheimer's patients as well. You never know what you're going to find on your way to developing much-condemned "frivolous" pharma.

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  • BakedPenguin||

    It's true. Just ask any fatass where the nearest Carl's Jr. is.

  • T||

    So, is anybody but me sharing a moment of 14 year old amusement at the journal? PNAS?

    No? Just me? Okay, I'll be going then.

  • ||

    Seeing as fat is flavor, this seems to be a little bit speculative. It doesn't take much research to to realize frying breaded eggplant in olive oil (for instance) tastes light years better than not frying it.

  • catMoze||

    The right fats are healthy. And here.

  • ||

    Oleic acid is just monounsaturated fat, which composes about 50-80% of olive oil for example. It is one of the healthiest fats you can consume. I'm always baffled by the stigma surrounding 'fat'. The only fat you should worry about is saturated fat and trans fat. Every other type is an important source of nutrition!

  • db||

    So should fatty meals and snacks be used during study to enhance scholastic performance? Maybe low fat diets and the pathological fear of fatty snacks in machines at schools is harming kids' intellectual development?

    EAT BIG. EAT FAT. It's for the CHILDREN.

  • anarch||


    (Someone had to say it.)

  • Robert||

    So, is anybody but me sharing a moment of 14 year old amusement at the journal? PNAS?

    Its readers commonly call it by the obvious pun at least because of its fine print, and for its contributors because of its often picayune editorial rules.

    Meanwhile I note that oleoyl [mono]ethanolamide is one of a class of substances commonly used to thicken shampoos, shower gels, etc. and to prolong their foam.

  • ||

    Nah,nah,nah... you'll never get it right until
    you put your lecithin granules in your oat-meal, along with the assorted berries and whey protein, for a grand breakfast.


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