Before it was banned in 1972 for its damaging effects on human health, the pesticide known as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (or DDT) was widely used on U.S. crops. The problem? DDT can take more than 15 years to break down in the environment, and in many parts of the world it is still used for agricultural and disease control purposes.
In addition to its probable carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects, DDT has been shown to affect healthy liver function, contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and cause damage to the human nervous and reproductive systems. Now, a new study involving mice reveals that DDT exposure may be linked to a higher risk of obesity and related conditions later in life—in particular among women.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis found that exposure to DDT in the womb leads to a higher risk in women of developing metabolic syndrome, defined by the Mayo Clinic as: “a cluster of conditions—increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels—that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”
More so than their male counterparts, the female mice exposed to DDT before birth showed signs of decreased metabolism and an inability to regulate body temperature, which study author Michele La Merrill said leads to more calories being stored instead of burned. In male mice, DDT exposure did not have the same effects and only caused a slight increase in blood glucose levels.
You can add brain health to your list of reasons to eat more fish. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recently completed a long-term study on how diet and lifestyle factors affect brain health and found that eating baked or broiled fish at least once a week can promote healthy brain function later in life.
The research team gathered data from more than 260 people during the study, during which participants routinely underwent high-resolution brain MRI scans to measure brain function. Regular fish eaters showed a greater volume of grey matter (responsible for routing sensory and motor stimuli) in the brain areas involved in memory and learning.
But why only baked or broiled and not fried fish? “Baked or broiled fish contains higher levels of Omega-3s than fried fish because the fatty acids are destroyed in the high heat of frying,” said lead investigator Dr. Cyrus Raji. Fish is an excellent lean protein source and many studies have linked fish-derived Omega-3 fatty acids to optimal health. Here’s a simple and delicious recipe you can try today!
Savory Mediterranean-Style Baked Fish
Two 4-oz. white fish fillets (flounder or tilapia)
One 10-oz. bag fresh spinach
2 small plum tomatoes, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 tbsp. chopped black olives
1 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 400°. Place fillets in a shallow glass baking dish; top with spinach, tomatoes, shallots, olives and capers. Drizzle orange juice over entire dish. Bake for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Sprinkle with pepper and serve hot.
Not a big fan of fish? Consider taking a high-concentration, purity-guaranteed fish oil supplement each day to reap the Omega-3 benefits!