HEALTH BITES
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LIFE

To gain less fat, stay in the cold, eat almonds and don't watch too much TV

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 January, 2015, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 January, 2015, 5:00pm

To lose weight, just chill

Too cold for comfort? The upside: it could help you burn some extra fat and keep your weight in check. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that exposure to cold temperatures increases levels of a newly discovered protein that is critical for the formation of brown fat, the type of body fat that generates heat. With extended exposure to chilly air, the protein, called transcription factor Zfp516, also helps the more abundant white fat in our bodies - the kind that stores excess energy - become more similar to brown fat in its ability to burn energy. In tests, mice with boosted levels of the Zfp516 protein gained 30 per cent less weight than control mice when both groups were fed a high-fat diet.

Almonds are a super snack

Munching on almonds - rather than a high-carb snack such as a muffin - can reduce belly fat and other heart disease risk factors. In a new 12-week study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 52 overweight, middle-aged adults who had high total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol ate cholesterol-lowering diets that were identical - except that one group snacked on 42 grams of whole natural almonds daily and the other a banana muffin with the same number of calories. The almond diet, compared to the muffin diet, improved many heart health risk factors. Despite no differences in body weight or total fat mass, the almond diet also significantly reduced abdominal fat mass, waist circumference and leg fat mass.

Too much television leads to bad diet

People who watch excessive amounts of television tend to eat more unhealthy foods and might not understand the foundations of a healthy diet, according to a University of Houston researcher. In his study published in the International Journal of Communication and Health, professor Temple Northup surveyed nearly 600 people. "I found people who watch more TV had both a poorer understanding of proper nutrition and a more fatalistic view toward eating well compared to those who watched less TV. In turn, those two items predicted snacking behaviour," he says. By "fatalistic view", he means that if these individuals think nutrition is too difficult to understand, they will probably give up trying to eat well.