I’ve always believed that no food should be completely off-limits. But I’ve also been known to plow through a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food in one sitting (and, no, I’m not ashamed to admit it).
Now I know why. Apparently, when it comes to ice cream you can’t have “just a taste,” according to a new University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center study. Ice cream contains palmitic acid, a type of fat that causes the brain to suppress the body’s signals of fullness. “Normally, our body is primed to say when we’ve had enough, but that doesn’t always happen when we’re eating something good,” said Dr. Deborah Clegg, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern. “Since you’re not being told by the brain to stop eating, you overeat.” In particular, palmitic acid causes your body to ignore appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, two hormones involved in regulating weight.
Palmitic acid is a type of artery-clogging saturated fat commonly found in butter, milk, cheese, and beef. Researchers also examined the effect of heart-healthy oleic acid–a common type of unsaturated fat–and found it did not have the same effect. “The action was very specific to palmitic acid, which is very high in foods that are rich in saturated fat,” says Clegg.
She says the study’s findings are more reason to limit saturated fat in your diet. In other words, just say “no.”
I won’t, of course, but at least now I know why I should.