The real reason you love Oreos
Some unhealthy snacks taste so good they're almost addictive.
And in some cases, you can take the "almost" out of the equation -- because new research shows that some junk foods really might be addictive, especially an Oreo cookie.
You know the Oreo cookie. They've been around for 100 years now, and for 100 years people have pulled them apart, eaten the creamy white filling and then crunched away on the chocolate cookies... before quickly reaching for another.
When that happens, it's not just because you're hungry for more cookies. It's because the Oreo cookie itself is igniting the pleasure centers of your brain in much the same way as addictive drugs like cocaine, according to the new study on rats.
In one experiment, rats were trained to get rice cakes from one side of a maze and Oreo cookies from the other. Then, they were set loose and allowed to pick which side they would go to for food.
Do I need to tell you which one they picked?
In a second experiment, another set of rats was injected with saline at one end of the maze and addictive drugs such as cocaine and morphine at the other. Once again, they were set loose and allowed to choose.
They picked the addictive drugs, of course. In fact, the rats on cocaine and the rats on Oreos behaved in remarkably similar ways.
"I haven't touched an Oreo since doing this experiment," researcher Joseph Schroeder was quoted as saying.
I don't blame him... but it's not just for the Oreo cookie. We know from other studies that junk foods in general and sugary foods in particular can activate the pleasure centers of the brain in the same way as addictive drugs.
Yes, "junk-food junkie" isn't just a figure of speech. It's a real addiction.
The best way to kick your own snack habit is to go cold turkey. Don't buy the junk, don't keep it in your home and you won't be tempted by it.
Instead, try healthier snacks including fresh fruits and even chocolate. Chocolate can actually help protect your heart and brain when eaten in moderation. Just be sure you stick to real chocolate -- ideally the dark variety -- and not chocolate-flavored cookies with a creamy white filling.