(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- If you can fondly remember eating a decadent meal
or rich dessert, evolution may be to blame.
California researchers have discovered that eating fat-rich foods triggers the
formation of meaningful, long-term memories of that activity. Our current diets
are now rich in fats, but that wasn't the case for early humans. In fact,
fat-rich foods in nature are quite rare, the researchers said.
"Remembering the location and context of a fatty meal was probably an important
survival mechanism for early humans," Daniele Piomelli, the Louise Turner Arnold
Chair in Neurosciences at the University of California Irvine, was quoted as
saying. "It makes sense that mammals have this capability."
Today, however, that memory skill may not be so beneficial. Piomelli's earlier
studies have shown that oleic acids from fats are transformed into a compound
called oleoylethanolamide (OEA) in the upper region of the small intestines. OEA
sends hunger-curbing messages to the brain to increase feelings of fullness, but
his new study found it may also engender long-term cravings for fatty foods
that, when eaten in excess, can cause obesity.
In elevated levels, OEA can reduce appetite, produce weight loss and lower blood
cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This finding could lead to new approaches
for treating obesity and other eating disorders, researchers said.
SOURCE: Published online on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'