You may not run all crazy on the streets for a stuffed crust pepperoni, but you should know that according to a recent study, the pizza contains some super addictive properties.
The addictive properties of several foods were examined in the study of the University of Michigan, published in the US National Library of Medicine. There were 504 students involved, and the results were maybe not that much surprising, since the pizza proved to be the first one on the list.
The foods that proved to cause “addiction” were highly processed foods such as chocolate, French fries, cake, and of course pizza. Processed foods in general, have high amounts of fats as well as carbohydrates in their content, at the same time being able to be absorbed by our body quickly. These two facts lead to hyperdrive condition of the reward-related brain areas, the same way as addictive drugs have on the neural circuitry. High processed foods with abundance of fats and sugars may cause changes in the dopamine system, or more exactly in reward and pleasure areas, very similar to the drug addiction.
“Addictive substances are rarely in their natural state, but have been altered or processed in a manner that increases their abuse potential. For example, grapes are processed into wine and poppies are refined into opium. A similar process may be occurring within our food supply” wrote the authors, who also pointed to another interesting study according to which “rats maintained on a diet of highly processed foods, such as cheesecake, exhibit down regulation in the dopamine system that also occurs in response to drugs of abuse.”
Other simple but important reason for the addictive properties of the pizza is the cheese.
The protein casein, present in all milk products, is the ingredient that gives crave-inducing properties of cheese. This is because it releases a peptide called casomorphins, which inhibits opioid receptors responsible for reward, pain control, and addiction.
We know this surely won’t shire you away of pizza, but the next time you’re eating one you’ll at least know the scientific reason for your strong pizza crave.