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Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 06:50 GMT
'Addictive curry' claim attacked
curries
Could you be addicted to this?
A claim that curries can be physically addictive is unlikely to be true, say food experts.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University sponsored by a major manufacturer of Indian food, say that kormas and vindaloos produce a "natural high" which makes us crave them more than other foods.


We're literally dazzling our tastebuds to a state of confusion

Professor Stephen Gray
The combination of ingredients stimulate more taste receptors on the tongue, they add.

However, food experts say there is a world of difference between something which induces a craving and a full-blown physical addiction.

Professor Stephen Gray, who led the research, was asked to find out whether the introduction of curry as a staple of the UK diet over the past 50 years had prompted any physical changes.

He looked at a sample of regular curry eaters between 10 and 70 years old.

Professor Gray said: "By activating several areas of the tongue simulaneously we're literally dazzling our tastebuds to a state of confusion.

"Traditional British foods fail to do this due to the basic flavour combinations - when we crave a curry it seems our tastebuds are literally crying out for the stimulation."

The researchers found that, compared to a traditional British dish, the anticipation of eating a curry increased heart rate and blood pressure more.

The prospect of a tikka masala, for example, elicited a 4.9% rise in blood pressure - compared to only a 1.8% rise provoked by British food.

Anticipation of medium-hot curries tended to produce the greatest response in terms of blood pressure and heart rate.

However, Dr Wendy Doyle, of the British Dietetic Association, said a physical addiction was unlikely.

She said: "I can understand cravings, but I'm not aware of any food that can cause an addiction."

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