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Cheese Really Is 'Daily Crack': New Study Reveals It's as Addictive as Drugs

Food

True Life: I'm a cheese addict. If you've ever uttered those words, or found yourself scarfing down another slice of honey-coated, creamy baked brie (drooling yet?), you may have a cheese addiction. But good news, cheese fans, your can't-stop-won't-stop struggle is real. Science has confirmed it.

Cheese's protein casein, which is found in milk products, releases casomorphins, an opiate, when digested. Photo credit: Shutterstock

A new study from the University of Michigan has explored the addictiveness of foods investigating about 500 students through the Yale Food Addiction Scale, and ranked the most dependency-causing munchies.

For these college students, it was no surprise. Pizza took top prize, and the main reason behind its ultimate addiction status was the most popular topping: cheese. And according to the research, the fattier the food, the more it leads to addiction.

"Cheese contains protein and fat, so you can use it in a meal as either," explains Rania Batayneh, MPH, in her book, The One One One Diet. "With turkey and bread, it could be a fat. With apples and almonds, it could be a protein."

Cheese's protein casein, which is found in milk products, releases casomorphins, an opiate, when digested. These casomorphins then cling to your brain, activating the opiate receptors, producing an effect not much different than heroin or morphine. Those happy feelings you get when eating the protein-rich cheese quickly develop into a full-blown addiction. Your brain gets swamped with happy feelings of reward, and you reach for more. But don't be so hard on yourself.

"If you have to pick something from the cheese and meat platter or the cookie platter, splurge on the fatty cheeses and meats," writes Jonathan Bailor in his book, Eat More, Lose More. "Natural fats are a wonderful treat because they fill us up while keeping our fat-storing hormones at bay. Sugary starches do just the opposite. Splurge on fat to avoid storing fat."

Hear that? Cheese for dessert, it is. Go ahead and indulge on a little fromage. Your brain is asking for it.

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