Are there addictive foods?

Has it ever happened to you that you tried to stop eating a bag of chips but you couldn't? Do you know why this happens? It is true that there are addictive foods and, precisely, no They are the healthiest foods.

In this article we tell you what these foods are and what happens to us when we eat them. Find out!

What are addictive foods?

Different studies have shown that food rich in fat and refined sugars can have a drug-like effect in our body. These foods are more likely to trigger addictive biological and behavioral responses due to their abnormally high reward levels.

How do addictive foods work?

Addictive foods are rarely found in their natural state. For example, there are natural foods that contain sugar, such as fruits, or foods that naturally contain fats, such as nuts, but sugar and fat are rarely found in the same food naturally.

Therefore, Ultraprocessed foods are added sugar, trans fat, Refined flour and refined oils to increase palatability and addiction power.

Usually, a substance is more addictive the higher the concentration of the addictive agent have. For example:

  • Water It has little or no addiction potential.
  • Beer, which contains an average of 5% ethanol, is more likely to be addictive.
  • A liquor It contains a higher dose of ethanol, between 20 and 75%, so it is more likely to be more addictive than beer.

Another factor to consider is that Ultraprocessed foods are more likely to induce a peak in blood sugar than natural foods. This is important because there is a known link between glucose levels and the activation of areas of the brain related to addiction.

For example, sugar in a highly processed food with a high glycemic content, such as a tablet of milk chocolate will be absorbed more quickly in the body than the natural sugars of a banana. This is because the banana is not processed and, although it contains sugar, it also has fiber, protein and water, which slows the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream.

You have to read: How to overcome food addiction to start dieting

What foods cause addiction?

As we said earlier, ultraprocessed foods are the most addictive for their ingredients, but there are some exceptions of poorly processed foods that can also cause addiction due to some specific ingredient of the food.

Ultraprocessed foods

In a study published in Plos One, it was seen that more addictive foods They were the following:

  • Chocolate.
  • Ice cream.
  • Chips.
  • Pizza.
  • Cookies.
  • Cake.
  • Buttered Popcorn.
  • Cheeseburger.

Surely as soon as you read it, your mouth is watering, since they are foods that contain high amount of calories, fats and sugars and are palatable. In addition, many of these foods are added monosodium glutamate.

Monosodium glutamate is a food condiment widely used in the food industry. It seems that glutamate can influence hypothalamic appetite regulation, which causes us to eat more of the food than we need.


Milk chocolate can cause addiction because of its fat and sugar content, but what about pure cocoa? Cocoa contains andanamide, a substance that binds to cannabinoid receptors.

In addition, some observations indicate that The inclination of women for chocolate is cyclic and hormone-dependent. Many women experience foodcraving for sweets and chocolate, being the highest consumption in the vicinity of menstruation.

It is also interesting: Why is industrial bakery not healthy?


Can't you stop eating cheese? Well, it's true that there are substances present in the cheese that are addictive and painkillers, as shown in this article.

The cheese, through its fermentation, heat treatment or enzymatic hydrolysis, contains a high concentration of milk-derived proteins, such as caseins, which have great potential to produce peptides with opioid effects. These peptides are able to cross the blood brain barrier, bind opioid receptors and cause analgesic and calming effects on the nervous system.

There are numerous opioid peptides that originate from milk proteins, but those that have been most related to cheese addiction are those of the group of β-casomorphins.


More than an addiction to coffee, you can experience a dependency, since caffeine is very chemically similar to another molecule that is present in the brain, adenosine, although they have different functions.

Adenosine fits into its proper receptor and creates a feeling of tiredness in the body. Caffeine is so structurally similar to adenosine that it can slip into brain receptors, blocking the adenosine of the fixation.

A person who consumes a lot of coffee and stops drinking suddenly will feel mentally confused and may experience a headache. This reaction occurs because brain chemistry changes after prolonged exposure to caffeine.