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The Secret To Better Memory

By Emily Sohn, September/October 2009

Can’t find your keys? Eat a little fat.


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“A foraging animal needs to remember not just that it’s eating a nice avocado in the forest,” says Piomelli. “It needs to remember to make a right or left turn at the third branch, not the fourth,” to find it again.

Piomelli’s preliminary results suggest that OEA might help people form these same sorts of memories, but more research is needed to say for sure. The relationship is complex, and OEA is far from the only piece of the puzzle, says Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, M.D., an endocrinologist at Harvard Medical School. “[OEA] probably plays a role, but it’s small.”

Still, with a newly clarified picture of how OEA works, scientists hope to develop drugs that might improve memory and treat brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.

In the meantime, it can’t hurt to eat nuts, salmon, vegetable oils and other sources of healthy fats. They’re good for you and they might help you to remember, especially if you eat them right before an experience you don’t want to forget. Fat starts being absorbed—and OEA is at its peak—10 to 20 minutes after a meal. It’s then, says Piomelli, that your gut and brain are primed to strengthen memories.



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