Is cheese one of your favourite foods? Could you give it up? According to a study from the University of Michigan, peoples' love for cheese can be considered as nothing short of an addiction.
Published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the study examines why certain foods are more addictive than others. And a compound found in cheese, which attaches to the brain's opiate receptors, puts it at the top of the list.
Based on responses to the Yale Food Addiction Scale, completed by 500 students, researchers identified the most addictive foods.
The favourite meal was pizza and while it may not be a surprising winner, the scientific explanation can largely be attributed to a particular pizza ingredient: cheese.
Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the US and author of Breaking the Food Seduction explained to Vegetarian Times why people find cheese so addictive.
Barnard says while all proteins contain the addictive compound casomorphin, cheese is processed to express liquid, making it an extremely concentrated source of this particular compound.
"Casomorphins attach to the brain's opiate receptors to cause a calming effect in much the same way heroin and morphine do," Barnard explains. "You might call it 'dairy crack'."
Barnard also shared his recommendation for giving up cheese: "You do what you do with any drug you're hooked on. You get away from it... you don't look at it, you don't smell it, and you certainly don't eat it."