food science

You’re Physically Incapable of Resisting Fried Chicken

Momofuku Noodle Bar's fried-chicken feast.

Momofuku Noodle Bar's fried-chicken feast.Photo: Melissa Hom

Research! Sometimes it tells us that alcohol is good for us; other times it tells us that city living makes us all obese. But today it tells us that fatty, salty food can trigger druglike reactions in our brains. Per U.C. Irvine's director of drug discovery and development, in the Times: "[W]e have this evolutionary drive to recognize fat; and when we have access to it, to consume as much as we possibly can." That certainly explains why people in low-income areas choose Cheetos over fresh vegetables, or why Michelle Obama felt compelled to hit Shake Shack recently, or why we couldn't stop ourselves from ordering a mac-and-cheese-stuffed burger at White & Church the other week. But it isn't just fat!

Research also says "salt is addictive in the same way as cigarettes or hard drugs," according to the Daily Mail. "Professor Derek Denton, of the University of Melbourne, said: 'In this study we have demonstrated that one classic instinct, the hunger for salt, is providing neural organisation that subserves addiction to opiates and cocaine.'"

So there you have it. Fried chicken and cocaine: not all that dissimilar.

When Fatty Feasts Are Driven by Automatic Pilot [Well/NYT]
Why salt is addictive: It stimulates the brain cells just like cigarettes and hard drugs [Daily Mail UK via Awl]

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