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In The News: Craving Fatty Foods? Blame Your Body Chemistry

7/7/2011 2:36:19 PM

Tags: In The News, Fatty Foods, Triscuits, Baked Plantain Chips, Unsalted Pretzels, Air-Popped Popcorn, Carrot Chips, Tips, Snack Foods

J.PattonBy now, we’ve all heard about the dangers of a diet high in fatty foods. But that’s doesn’t stop those sinful snacks, such as potato chips and French fries, from being so darn delicious—so delicious it’s impossible to have just one. A new study may explain why you can’t stop at just a bite of these greasy goodies.

The study shined new light on the popular Pringle's slogan,
"Once you pop, you can't stop."
Photo by Lelê Breveglieri/Courtesy

The study, which appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that when you eat a fatty food, the brain releases chemicals called endocannabinoids. These chemicals make you hungry and also increase your sense of taste. They are naturally found in marijuana and are believed to cause the phenomenon common referred to as “the munchies.”

The study showed that as fat touched the tongue, the brain received the message and then sent it to the stomach. And what did that message say? “Eat!” So, as you’re shoveling French fries in your mouth, before you’ve even swallowed, your body is already demanding more of that fried potato goodness.

So, the next time you’re getting that craving for a food full of fat, resist the urge to splurge and try one of these healthier alternatives instead:

Photo by Roadsidepictures/Courtesy Flickr 

• Triscuit Whole Grain Crackers: With less than half the fat of Lays Classic Potato Chips, these crackers are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and are made with 100 percent whole grains. They also contain 12 percent of your daily fiber and are great with dips or plain.

Photo by Rennett Crowe/Courtesy Flickr  

• Baked plantain chips: Don’t let the name fool you—this is nothing like your typical breakfast banana. Slice up one plantain into thin chips and bake them for a healthy alternative to potato chips.

Photo by Founding Farmers/Courtesy Flickr 

• Air-popped popcorn: When you subtract the butter, popcorn is actually a very healthy snack. Three cups of popcorn contain only 1.1 grams of fat, 14 percent of your fiber for the day, and contain no cholesterol. Compare that with the 500 grams of fat in each large French fries at McDonalds.

Photo by talkoftomatoes/Courtesy Flickr

• Carrot chips: Get the shape and crunch of the potato chips minus the fat. One ounce of carrot chips contains only 11.7 calories and no fat or cholesterol. They taste great with a side of fat-free ranch.

Photo by Jayymee/Courtesy Flickr

• Unsalted pretzels: Ten of these twisty snacks contain only 2 grams of fat, no cholesterol, and seven percent of your fiber for the day. They also contain 14 percent of your iron needed each day. They are great when dipped in dips or hummus. 

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