Cheddar, Gouda, Feta, Brie. Gruyere, Asiago, Swiss, Bleu. Which is your fix of choice? A new study released by the U.S. National Library of Medicine reveals that cheese is actually addictive in the same way that drugs are addictive — only with milder side effects.
According to the study, which was conducted at the University of Michigan, cheese is addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products.
When cheese is consumed and then digested, casein releases opiates called casomorphins.
“[Casomorphins] really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element,” a registered dietitian told Mic.
To reach this conclusion, researchers recruited around 500 people to participate in two different studies.
In the first, participants completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a questionaire designed to measure whether individuals are addicted to food. They were then instructed to pick, out of a list of 35, which foods they found most addictive (pizza topped the list).
In the second study, participants also completed the questionnaire, but coupled their answers with ratings of how tough it would be to give up each of the 35 foods.
Other foods that were listed and ranked highly included chocolate, cookies, chips, and cheeseburgers.
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