That milkshake, that wonderful cheeseburger, or that scrumptious slice of cheesecake - you know what I mean! It's that thing that has everything to do with comfort food. Many of us seek it out, especially during the fall and winter as daylight gets shorter and the days get colder. For me, it's always been french fries, chili, fish & chips, and freshly baked doughnuts that still give me a thrill during this time of the year.
But this "addiction" to foods that are not so good for you, can have some real negative effects especially for those of us who are struggling to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. That's right, according to a study done by the Scripps Research Institute, in Jupiter, Florida, delicious yet fattening foods may be addictive. The study found that when rats consumed these types of foods in great enough quantities, it led to compulsive eating habits that resembled drug addiction - very much like the effect that cocaine and heroin has on the brain.
The most interesting part of the study looked at the eating habits of the rats. The group of rats that consumed great quantities of human food quickly became obese. However, obesity wasn't the only result of their eating habits, as their brains also changed. The researchers monitored implanted brain electrodes, and found that the obese rats gradually developed a tolerance to the pleasure the food gave them and had to eat more to experience a high - similar to a drug addict. The rats began to eat compulsively, to the point where they continued to do so in the face of pain. When the researchers applied an electric shock to the rats in the presence of the food, the obese rats were not frightened away, as their attention was solely focused on the food.
The effect that frequently consuming fatty foods will have on your body, not to mention your cardiovascular system, can have dire consequences. Fatty foods cause a rise in LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides numbers and have a negative impact on HDL (the good cholesterol) numbers, which can be a front-line of defense in fighting cardiovascular disease. Not to mention that fatty foods can be directly blamed for the epidemic of diabetes that we are experiencing in this country today.
However, the good news is that we do have control over our diet. We shouldn't deprive ourselves of the occasional food "guilty pleasure" but these instances should be the exception rather than the rule. Following a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and omega-3 rich foods, as well as following an active lifestyle is what will keep you and your heart healthy. And guess what? You won't be alone in kicking the fatty food "addiction", our experts on HealthCentral.com write about the many ways to cut the fat out of your diet and provide good advice on an active lifestyle and portion control. Make sure to look through the many resources to help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, especially as we head into the "comfort food" time of the year.
Published On: September 02, 2010