If you feel like you’re hooked on cheese, don’t worry – there’s a very good (scientific) reason for that.
Scientists from the University of Michigan claim to have discovered a chemical found in both cheese and drugs that makes them addictive.
Casein was found in the popular food, and is actually in most dairy products. The chemical can target and trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, inducing the same euphoric feeling akin to hard drugs.
As a part of the study, 500 students were asked what they thought was the most addictive food, and pizza easily topped the list. The top ranking foods all contained cheese in some form.
So why aren’t other dairy products, like milk, as addictive? Simply, the casein dosages aren’t as powerful. But if it takes 10 pounds of milk to net a pound of cheese, that’s serious casein concentration.
“If properties of some foods are associated with addictive eating for some people, this may impact nutrition guidelines, as well as public policy initiatives such as marketing these foods to children,” said study author Erica Schulte.
Nicole Avena, a co-author on the study, agrees that tackling health issues is the best way to utilize the newfound information.
“This could help change the way we approach obesity treatment. It may not be a simple matter of ‘cutting back’ on certain foods, but rather, adopting methods used to curtail smoking, drinking and drug use.”
Past studies indicate highly-processed foods, or foods with added fat or refined carbohydrates – like cheese – are capable of triggering addictive eating behaviour. And if reports that the average person eats 35 pounds of cheese per year are true, that’s a recipe for obesity.