We know the importance of eating an adequate number of fruits and vegetables every day. Well, a new study suggests that eating fruit isn’t just part of a balanced diet; it could also be the reason why we’ve developed these massive brains in the first place.
The research, published in the journal Nature, Ecology and Evolution, looked at main sources of foods for over 140 species of primates and found that creatures which consumed the most fruit had nearly 25 per cent larger brains than those who ate a leaf-heavy diet. With the exception of a few mammals like whales and elephants, the brain-to-body-size ratios of humans, apes and monkeys are significantly larger than other animals.
Perhaps we have nature’s candy to thank for that.
Previous research pointed to the “social brain hypothesis,” which reasoned that our brains developed in order to cope socially in big groups.
“Are humans and other primates big-brained because of social pressures and the need to think about and track our social relationships, as some have argued?” James Higham, assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Anthropology, said in an interview with The Telegraph. “This has come to be the prevailing view, but our findings do not support it. In fact, our research points to other factors, namely diet.”
The new theory is that we developed bigger brains to remember where all that precious fruit was and how to get it out of its peel/rind, and that our social structures and critical thinking skills developed along with it. Also, fruits are full of sugar, which fuels our massive, sugar-seeking noggins.
The research is kind of a big deal in the scientific community as it’s brought the prevailing theory into question. It’s now back to the drawing board for researchers as they try to confirm or disprove this new study, probably with a big bowl of fruit salad to help them work through it.