Discovery

Nutrient in Pork May Aid Brain Development

A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina has made a discovery that is sure to bring joy to carnivores everywhere: Choline, a nutrient found in pork, is essential to fetal brain development. “Our study in mice indicates that the diet of a pregnant mother, especially choline in that diet, can change the epigenetic switches that control brain development in the fetus,” said scientist Steven Zeisel, a senior member of the editorial board of the FASEB Journal, which published the study. By feeding two groups of pregnant mice different diets—one high in choline, one low in choline—the scientists found that the brains of the mice fetuses that received a high-choline diet were more highly developed. “We may never be able to call bacon a health food with a straight face,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor in chief of the FASEB Journal, “but the emerging field of epigenetics is already making us rethink those things that we consider healthful and unhealthful.”