Love Fatty Foods? Blame Your Genes, Study Says

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By Cooking Panda

Some people have a defective gene that makes them crave fatty foods, according to U.K. researchers.

The University of Cambridge fed 54 volunteers a two-course meal to see how various fat content affected their eating behavior. Scientists found that people with a rare defective MC4R gene — linked to obesity — preferred the high-fat offerings and ate more of them than the volunteers without the gene.

About one in 1,000 people carries a defective version of MC4R, which controls hunger and appetite and affects how we burn calories, according to the BBC. Mutations in the gene are a common cause of severe obesity in families.

Researchers for the study, published in the Nature Communications journal, created three versions of both chicken korma (a South Asian dish of chicken with yogurt sauce) and a strawberries-and-cream dessert. Each version of the chicken dish varied in fat content, while each dessert had a different amount of sugar.

Volunteers with defective MC4R ate much more of the high-fat chicken korma than the lean and obese volunteers without the defect. As for the dessert, the defective MC4R carriers were the only ones who didn’t opt for the high-sugar version. 

This would suggest that MC4R makes people value fat over sugar. The results make sense, researchers think, because people likely developed hunger genes to eat more and store fat during times of famine.

“Most of the time we eat foods that are both high in fat and high in sugar,” said lead researcher Sadaf Farooqi.

“By carefully testing these nutrients separately in this study, and by testing a relatively rare group of people with the defective MC4R gene, we were able to show that specific brain pathways can modulate food preference.”

When your brain prompts you to choose foods that are high in fat and low in sugar, it’s defending the body from starvation, Farooqi said. Having a defect in MC4R, though, can make hunger insatiable.

So next time you want fried chicken after just having eaten pizza, you’ve got a valid question to ask yourself: Do you have a defective MC4R gene? Or do you need to get your cravings in check?

Source: BBC / Photo credit: Thy Khue Ly/Flickr

Tags: cravings, fat, genetics, science, Study
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New Study Suggests Sandwiches Are Jeopardizing Your Health — But Are They?

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By Cooking Panda

Is anybody else tiring of all these new “studies” which seem nuanced, but ultimately boil down to the cardinal rule of health? Everything in moderation, folks! Science demonstrates it again.

A new study published in the journal Public Health suggests that if you are somebody who often opts for a sandwich during lunchtime, than your choice may be sabotaging your health — but that’s not the whole story.

Researchers at the University of Illinois analyzed data drawn from more than 27,000 adults, and concluded that on the days those adults consumed sandwiches, they ended up consuming nearly 100 more calories per day (as well as more sodium, sugar and fat) than on days they chose another lunch option.

Study co-author and assistant professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ruopeng An, told Live Science this could be due to Americans’ tendency to consume sandwiches that are low in produce, but high in calories, fat and sodium.

In other words: Sandwiches aren’t making us all fat and unhealthy. Our personal dietary choices probably are, though.

As the researchers wrote in the study: “Sandwich consumers are advised to prudently evaluate the calorie and nutrient content of sandwiches in order to make informed and more healthful dietary choices.”

Look, folks, this isn’t groundbreaking stuff. While the study did show that about 53 percent of the participants ate a sandwich on any given day, what’s more important is what those sandwiches were filled with. Commonly, adults seem to be choosing to consume sandwiches stuffed cold cuts and burgers. Of course those ingredients are higher in sodium and fat.

What it boils down to is this: Sandwiches won’t jeopardize your health — in fact, they could help bolster it! — so long as you make mindful decisions about what to fill your meal with. Live Science provided the following tips for a more nutritious sandwich:

* Make your own sandwich if possible, so you have more control over what goes in it

* Add more leafy veggies, but less meat

* Use whole wheat bread with no salt added

* Avoid adding processed meat, because it is typically high in fat and sodium

* Avoid using dressings (like mayo and other sauces)

Sources: Live Science, Public Health / Photo credit: McAlister's Deli

Tags: fat, lunch, mindful eating, sandwich, sodium
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