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Sunflower seeds best for birds when it is cold

It is cold and you do not know what to feed the birds: choose sunflower seeds, not coconut fat. The birds might actually live longer according to a new study from Lund University.
Great tit on a branch.
The study has been performed on great tit birds. It shows that coconut fat can lead to a premature death when it is cold. Photo: Martin Andersson

The study has been led by Caroline Isaksson, researcher at the Department of Biology in Lund.

For birds it is important with a high metabolism when it is cold. But if they are fed coconut fat the result is a metabolism that is too high to be good for them. This might lead to cells being damaged and a premature death.

The reason is that coconut fat is saturated fat and saturated fat increases the metabolism.

So, when it is cold sunflower seeds are better for birds. The seeds contain unsagurated fat which does not raise the metabolism.

The study has been performed by Caroline Isaksson together with her colleagues Martin N Andersson, Johan Nilsson and Jan-Åke Nilsson. They have fed captured great tits with coconut fat or sunflower seeds at different temperatures.

Thus, the study shows that sunflower seeds are better for the birds when it is cold, the results also show that a change in temperature can turn things upside down. That is, when the temperature rises and it gets warmer the opposite applies and coconut fat is better for the birds.

The study is published in an article in Journal of Experimental Biology.
Jan Olsson      

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