Beautiful Science


Labybirds come in red, yellow and even orange, and are often embellished with spots.

Trans fats bad for memory

"As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people."

PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE BEATRICE GOLOMB, University of California at San Diego, School of Medicine. She and her team found that greater consumption of dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA) - commonly used in processed foods to improve taste, texture and durability - is linked to worsened memory function in men aged 45 or younger. The study evaluated data from 1,018 men and women who were asked to complete a dietary survey and memory test involving word recall. On average, the men recalled 86 words; however, for each additional gram of trans fats consumed daily, performance dropped by 0.76 words. This translates into an expected 12 fewer words recalled by young men with dTFA intake levels matching the highest observed in the study, compared with men who do not consume trans fats.

The colours make ladybirds look pretty, but they also act as a warning to predators to beware of the foul-smelling, poisonous chemicals the insects use for defence. And it seems that the brighter the ladybirds are, the more toxic they are as well, according to new research by Exeter and Cambridge universities in Britain. The study found that relatively inconspicuous species have low levels of defence and place more emphasis on avoiding being seen, whereas more conspicuous species openly flaunt their strong defences to predators such as birds. And the birds are taking heed - researchers said that the more colourful the ladybird species, the less likely it is to be attacked.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2015, with the headline 'Beautiful Science'. Subscribe