This Week in Research: Show Less Skin, Eat More Avocados

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How much skin you’re showing affects people’s opinion of your abilites and self-control, according to a study by scientists at Harvard, Yale, Northeastern, and the University of Maryland. The researchers showed subjects photographs of men and women’s faces, and then the same image zoomed out to show the face plus a bare torso. When asked to judge how much experience (defined here as the ability to perceive and feel) and agency (self-control, the power to make decisions) the people in the photos had, the subjects said the face-only folks had plenty of both. But the skin-showing photos were judged as both more reckless and less composed. In other words, the more revealing your clothes, the less perceived personal power you have.

Meanwhile, researchers at Johns Hopkins think you should eat more avocados and less pasta. According to research by Meghana Gadgil, a postdoctoral fellow in internal medicine, certain sources of unsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts) help manage insulin levels. Gadgil and her fellow scientists weren’t interested in helping subjects lose weight; they wanted to see how diets affected cardiovascular health. So they fed subjects three different diets — one with lots of carbs, one with lots of protein, and one with lots of unsaturated fats. The unsaturated fats won out. The extra good news here is that the healthy-heart effects were apparent even without the subjects shedding pounds:  “What we found is that you can begin to see a beneficial impact on heart health even before weight loss,” Gadgil says.



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