Study Shows That Cheese Affects the Opioid Receptors in the Brain

It goes well with everything.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Esther A

Chester Cheetah, the Cheetos-addicted advertising character, may have more of a problem than we thought. As it turns out, cheese affects the brain the same way opioids do. That could be why a hot slice of pizza or an enchilada oozing with melted cheese is so satisfying. Or why cheese goes well with everything from salads to wine. Scientists have found that cheese is particularly addictive because it contains casein.

According to Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, casein “breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins.” These casomorphins interact with opioid receptors, which are involved with reward, addiction, and pain control in the brain. Another reason we have a hard time saying no to the question “Want cheese on your Jumbo Jack?” is that cheese is processed. According to a University of Michigan study, our bodies become more easily addicted to foods that are heavily processed.