Your cheese addiction may indeed be real. And, my fellow cheddar fiend, you are not alone.
A recent University of Michigan study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine looked at why certain foods are more addictive than others. Not surprisingly, pizza topped the list, and the ingredient in the wondrous pie that calls to us most strongly (often late in the night; sometimes even at the gym) is the cheese on top.
Most Americans eat 35 pounds of cheese a year. Since 1970, Americans have more than tripled our cheese consumption, according to an article in mic.com about the new Michigan study.
Why is the siren song of Swiss so strong? Why does the mere thought of Manchego make you drool like Pavlov’s pooch? It might be the casein.
Casein’s a protein found in all milk products and is super concentrated in cheese. Casein "breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins," Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told the news source.
Multiple studies have shown that casomorphins interact with opioid receptors, which are involved in controlling pain, reward and addiction in the brain.
"[Casomorphins] really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element," registered dietitian Cameron Wells told Mic.
Previous research from the University of Michigan showed how highly processed foods, like Oreos, can trigger addictive-like behavior.