Scientists have discovered that cheese contains a chemical that is found in addictive drugs.
Researchers conducted a study using the Yale Addiction Scale - designed to measure the dependence of a person - in order to determine why certain foods are more addictive than others. The results showed that cheese is especially potent as it contains casein - a substant in all dairy products that can trigger the opiod receptors of the brain which are connected to addiction.
The authors of the study published in the Public Library of Science One Journal also discovered that processed foods were more likely to have addictive behaviour, with fatty foods being the most difficult of all - to put down. Additionally, they found that the highest-ranking foods on the addiction scale were those that contained cheese.
120 graduates were asked to answer the Yale Food Addiction Scale by the researchers for one part of the study, and were asked to choose between 35 foods that varied in nutrional value. For the second part of the study, 384 people were presented with the same food item in a hierarchical linear order.
The study indicated that fat was associated with problematic eating, whether the participants were addicted to the food, or not. "“Fat seemed to be equally predictive of problematic eating for everyone, regardless of whether they experience symptoms of 'food addiction.”says one of the study's authors, Erica Shulte.
As casein - the substance found in cheese - breaks down in the stomach, it produces the peptide known as 'casmorphine (an opiod). According to a registered dietitian Cameron Wells, the casmorphine "really play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element."