New research from the University of Michigan has discovered something none of us really want to face: cheese really is like heroin. Researchers did two separate studies involving about 500 people and the results show that overall, pizza topped the list of addictive foods – beating out chocolate, chips, and cookies.
So what is it about pizza that makes it so appealing? For one thing it’s processed, and we love us some processed foods. But it’s also the delicious, fattening cheese. The study’s authors believe the higher the fat content in the food, the more addictive it is. That sounds about right, doesn’t it?
And as much as we love cheese, Dr. Neil Barnard, who runs the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, has some harsh things to say about it (which makes sense, as the PCRM are big fans of vegetarianism and veganism). He says the reason cheese is so addictive is because it contains the protein casein, which creates casomorphins when the body breaks the dairy down.
"Casomorphins attach to the brain's opiate receptors to cause a calming effect in much the same way heroin and morphine do," Dr. Barnard explains. "In fact, since cheese is processed to express out all the liquid, it's an incredibly concentrated source of casomorphins, you might call it dairy crack."
That may be true and all, but cheese does offer some nutrients. And if we don’t eat it, we don’t go through withdrawal or anything. So it’s better for us than actual heroin. And we’re not going to let a little thing like being addictive stop our love affair with “dairy crack.”